San Antonio Spurs 2022 NBA Draft Primer: Tiebreakers, Priorities and More

The San Antonio Spurs have four picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, including three first rounders. Of the four picks, only the position of one of the selections is set in stone: San Antonio’s lone second round pick will be the 38th overall. That pick, which originally belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers, was acquired as part of the DeMar DeRozan trade with the Chicago Bulls. 

On Monday, the Spurs will learn the position of two of their three first round draft picks. To determine the draft order for non-lottery picks, the tiebreaker for teams with the same record is a coin flip. 

Tomorrow, San Antonio will know if the first rounder they got from the Toronto Raptors in the Thaddeus Young trade is the 20th pick or the 21st pick (the Raptors finished with the same record as the Denver Nuggets). The Spurs will also find out if their pick from the Boston Celtics in the Derrick White deal is the 23rd, 24th or 25th selection (the Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers had identical records).

As for their top pick, the Spurs will have to wait until May 17th for the NBA draft lottery. Currently, the pick is slated to be ninth overall. They have a 4.5% chance of winning the lottery and moving up to the top pick.  Their odds of moving up to one of the top four spots is 20%, while there’s a 29% chance that they could lose a spot or two.

The Importance of Winning the April 18th Tiebreakers

Obviously, winning all the coin flips and ending up with the 20th and 23rd picks would be optimal. Compared to the worst case scenario of ending up with picks 21 and 25, if you look at the value of NBA draft picks, the loss of draft capital between the two scenarios would be like a pick in the 40s going up in smoke. Bad luck tomorrow wouldn’t be a game-changer but there is some definite value on the line for the Spurs.

A much bigger deal, though, is the lottery. This draft appears to have four standout prospects so moving up into the top four would absolutely be a game-changer.

The San Antonio Spurs Draft Priorities

First and foremost, the Spurs need to add talent to the roster. I thought they had a really good season — but there’s still a wide talent gap between these Spurs and the teams currently competing in the playoffs. When it is San Antonio’s turn to draft, if there is a standout player who the front office sees as being head and shoulders above the rest, he should be the selection — regardless of position, skillset or any other consideration.

Conversely, if the Spurs are trying to make a decision between multiple players on the same tier, there are a handful of attributes that should be prioritized. 

1. Upside

As well as Dejounte Murray played this season, the Spurs still need a true franchise player. Rolling the dice on a potential star is a risk worth taking. In the Golden Era of Spurs basketball, finding serviceable role players in the draft was a win. Right now, a serviceable role player won’t make much of a difference.

2. Shooting

On a per possession basis, the Spurs were third to the bottom in the league in three-pointers attempted. Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker IV led the team in three-pointers per possession — and Forbes is already gone and Walker might soon join him. A non-shooter may work in certain circumstances but it’d be really helpful if all of their draft picks are competent outside shooters. 

3. Positional Fit 

I don’t think positional fit is a major deal but it should enter the equation when comparing two similar prospects. Looking at the roster, the most glaring holes are at the forward positions. A combo forward with size and length would fit really well, for example. At the other end of the spectrum, the Spurs don’t really have room to try to develop another point guard with Dejounte Murray, Josh Primo and Tre Jones on the roster and in need of playing time.

Positions of need: combo forward, skilled power forward, scoring shooting guard (especially if Walker leaves), non-point guard playmaker

Positions that appear to be full: point guard, undersized combo guard, big man without perimeter skills

Upcoming Spurs Draft Content

After the tiebreakers are settled tomorrow, I’ll release my first Big Board of the offseason that will take into account scouting reports, rumblings about who the Spurs may be interested in and which prospects make the most sense for San Antonio.