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Spurs Draft picks- the early to mid-90s did not move the needle toward a title run

San Antonio’s middle of decade scouts had the same luck.

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

After the acquisition of Sean Elliott in the 1989 NBA Draft, the Spurs ability to chose viable pieces seemed to have fallen off. In all honesty, they had a formidable core with David Robinson, Elliott, and Avery Johnson. Finding the right fit with Terry Cummings, Willie Anderson, and Rod Strickland and the additional pieces to complement was what every NBA team was doing most seasons.

As it turned out, the mid-90s would prove to be a bust. San Antonio had the equivalent abhorrent scouting as the music labels of the era. Basketball’s Limp Bizkit, Hanson, and Smash Mouth all ended up with the Silver & Black.

The 1992 draft did not initially appear to fare any better than 1990 or 1991.

With the 18th pick in the Draft, the Spurs chose Tracy Murray. Murray never played for the Spurs and was consequently traded twice in a week. For the Spurs part, Murray was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks for Dale Ellis. The 1987 Most Improved Player and 1989 All-Star was no longer averaging 20+ points per game as he had in Seattle, but his nearly 16 points over his two seasons in San Antonio could be considered a win. Unfortunately, Ellis’ prime had passed and he left San Antonio on a professional decline that followed him until retirement.

Second round pick Henry Williams, made at the 44th spot, never saw any playing time in the NBA but had a successful overseas career. Williams was the 1996 Italian League MVP and won a 1997 Italian League Championship. Additionally, he won a 1999 FIBA Saporta Cup, nabbing the MVP for those Finals as well as being the top scorer.

In 1993 the Spurs once again were without a first round pick in the NBA Draft. The 20th pick had gone to the Charlotte Hornets along with Sidney Green and the 1996 second round pick in exchange for J. R. Reid. During the second round, San Antonio chose Chris Whitney in the 47th spot. Whitney made little impact as point guard behind Sleepy Floyd, he averaged one-and-three-quarters points in just over seven minutes of playing time. Chris Whitney moved on to Washington where he played eight of his eleven seasons in the NBA.

The Spurs once again had no second round pick in 1994, and their lone choice, first round draftee Bill Curley, who was chosen with the 22nd pick, had his rights traded to the Detroit Pistons to re-acquire Sean Elliott, who had been sent to Detroit the year before for Dennis Rodman.

In 1995, the Spurs drafted Cory Alexander with the 29th pick of the NBA Draft. They had given their second round pick to the Detroit Pistons the previous year when trading the draft rights for Bill Curley in exchange for Sean Elliott. Alexander played just over two seasons for the Silver & Black before heading to Denver.

Believe it or not, the Spurs 1996 picks had already been traded to other teams. The Spurs traded the 18th pick (which had come to the Spurs in 1993 with Sean Elliott) along with J.R. Reid and Brad Lohaus to the Knicks for Charles Smith and Monty Williams. And as mentioned previously, the 1996 second round pick went to the Charlotte Hornets in the deal that originally landed them J. R. Reid.

So indirectly, Reid was responsible for the Spurs not drafting anyone that offseason.

The mid-90s may have not been a drafting haven for the Spurs, but the ill-fated health of David Robinson, a coup involving the overthrown the Spurs coaching staff, a horrendous season, and a ruined swimming pool due to Hurricane Hugo would create a perfect storm that forever changed the Spurs destiny.


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