8 Question About the Spurs and the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery

On Sunday afternoon, the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery will determine where the Spurs will pick and whether San Antonio will have one or two lottery selections. While there’s nobody resembling Victor Wembanyama in this draft, there will surely be a few tense moments for the Spurs.

Put simply, San Antonio has a 42% chance of landing a top four pick and a 58% chance of drafting between fifth and ninth. The Spurs are also owed a protected pick from the Toronto Raptors. If the Raptors pick in the top six, they keep the pick. If the selection is seven or lower, the Spurs get the pick. The odds give the Spurs about a 50/50 chance of getting the Raptors lottery pick.

With a lot of moving parts to consider, here are answers to the eight most important questions facing the Spurs as the lottery looms.

How bad is this draft?

It’s definitely not a good draft. Specifically, there is no clear-cut number one pick. Hell, there’s really not a player in this draft that would be selected in the top three in most drafts.

But the news isn’t all bad. I’d say there are somewhere between eight to ten players who have legitimate lottery-level talent. A few interesting prospects will also be available in the teens, twenties and even into the early parts of the second round. 

With the draft being so weak at the top, should the Spurs actually hope for the first pick?

The Spurs have about a 10% chance of landing the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Even though the top of the draft is weak, San Antonio would still be very happy to get the top pick.

First of all, the first pick is a really good trade asset. Secondly, the rookie scale ensures that the contract will be reasonable. Most importantly, landing the first pick would guarantee the Spurs the chance of drafting the top player on their board. Given San Antonio’s impressive history in the draft spanning decades, that’d be an enviable position.

Are there any downsides to getting the top pick?

It’s mostly positives. Getting the first pick would be cause for a moderate amount of celebration in South Texas.

There are a few negatives. The pressure to live up to San Antonio’s glorious history of superstar first overall picks would be undeniable. Additionally, a top pick that shows promise is practically a lock to get a max contract down the road — which would be suboptimal if the player isn’t truly a game-changer.

But I believe those negatives would be overshadowed by the positives. 

Should the Spurs hope they get the pick from the Raptors this season?

This is a tougher question. The 2025 NBA Draft looks like it’s going to be a much stronger draft. As it stands, there looks to be about 15 high quality prospects.

But I actually think getting Toronto’s pick this year would be a very positive outcome. With the pick being top six protected, getting the seventh or eighth pick this year is too perfect to pass up.

It’s difficult to predict what will happen with the Raptors in future seasons. They may improve a lot next season in what projects to be another weak Eastern Conference. Alternatively, Toronto may go full tank mode in order to keep their pick. If the Raptors tank the next two seasons, they could avoid giving the Spurs a first round pick altogether.

But shouldn’t the Spurs instead hope they get the pick next season because it’s a better draft?

In a perfect world, yes. In the real world, it’s not that simple. Obviously, the Spurs don’t have any control regarding when they get the pick from the Raptors — but this draft looks like a great opportunity. 

Besides, the Spurs are already owed an unprotected first round draft pick from the Atlanta Hawks next season and protected first round picks from the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets.

Okay, so if the Spurs get the top pick, what’s the plan?

It would not be an easy selection. Looking at the first Spurs Big Board, I’d say Robert Dillingham would have a good chance — but he’d be far from a lock. The Spurs may opt to pick Dillingham to give Wembanyama a dynamic offensive running mate but there would be other contenders.

If the Spurs view Alex Sarr as the next Jaren Jackson Jr. or Evan Mobley, they might have to pick him even though he wouldn’t be the cleanest fit next to Wembanyama early on.

If the Spurs want a multipurpose wing with two-way appeal, Stephon Castle or Zaccharie Risacher would both be in the running. Risacher has received glowing praise from Wembanyama, so that probably counts for something.

Nikola Topic is possibly the best passer and playmaker in the draft. If the Spurs agree, that’d give him a chance to go No. 1.

The final two players I could imagine the Spurs picking with the top pick are Matas Buzelis or Ron Holland out of the G League Ignite. Both players struggled with the Ignite but that G League club was such a dumpster fire that the NBA shut it down after the season. There’s a scenario where the Spurs ignore anything that happened with the Ignite and rewind the tape to when both Holland and┬áBuzelis were receiving first pick buzz.

If the Spurs get the Raptors pick, who would the Spurs target?

Those seven players mentioned previously would still be in the mix with the Raptors pick. A few other players would also be added to the discussion.

The most notable would be Reed Sheppard. I don’t think he’s the type of prospect you’d draft first overall but at seven or eight, that’d be an exciting pick due to his potential as a deadly shooter. Dalton Knecht is another quality shooter who could enter the equation with Toronto’s pick.

San Antonio could also take upside swings with prospects like Cody Williams or Tidjane Salaun. Neither Williams nor Salaun have a lot of refined skills but they both have the high-end physical tools and have shown enough glimpses to pick in the lottery.

Donovan Clingan looks to be a lock to go somewhere in the top eight but the fit in San Antonio is likely too poor to pick him. Isaiah Collier probably also deserves a mention but his questionable feel for the game makes him another iffy fit. 

What would classify as a good outcome for the draft lottery for San Antonio?

If the Spurs get the Raptors pick, I’d classify the draft lottery as a success — regardless of anything else that happens. If the Spurs get the Raptors pick and a top four pick, that’s a big, big win.

If the Spurs don’t get the pick from Toronto but get a top four pick, that’s okay-ish. Anything less than that I’d classify as a ping pong ball failure.