What’s at Stake for Spurs During the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery

Today is the day the San Antonio Spurs find out the exact location of their top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Spurs already know they will be drafting 20th, 25th and 38th. When the ping pong balls stop bouncing, there’s approximately a 50% chance that San Antonio will also be picking 9th overall.

If the Spurs get unlucky, they could end up with a worse pick, as there’s about a 30% chance that they end up with the 10th, 11th or 12th pick. 

On the other hand, the Spurs have right around a 20% chance of landing a top four pick: 4.5% chance of the first pick, 4.8% for the second pick, 5.2% for the third and 5.7% for fourth. 

Results of the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery will be televised tonight on ESPN at 7 p.m. CT.

Who would the Spurs pick if they get a top four selection?

Coincidentally, there are four draft prospects who are head and shoulders above the rest of the field. If the Spurs get a top four pick, it’s practically guaranteed that they’ll pick one of Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith or Jaden Ivey.

Banchero is the player who I have listed at the top of the Spurs Big Board 2.0. At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, his offensive upside is immense. He’s a polished scorer and a great passer for his size and age. Of the four, Banchero is the most likely to become a go-to scorer in the NBA. (See the complete Paolo Banchero scouting report.)

Holmgren has a peculiar frame as a seven-footer who weighs less than 200 pounds. But, despite his slender build, he’s already an excellent rim protector and will likely be a force on that end of the court early on in his career. Offensively, he can shoot and there are avenues for him to become a high-volume scorer. Holmgren’s frame is worrisome but he’s such a fiery competitor that it’s likely that he figures out how to thrive. (See the complete Chet Holmgren scouting report.)

Smith is the best shooting prospect in the draft. He’s 6-foot-10 and his shot mechanics are flawless. If he doesn’t develop into an elite three-point shooter, that’d be a surprise. He’s also a willing defender who is quick enough to play out on the perimeter and who will likely become strong enough to survive in the paint. (See the complete Jabari Smith scouting report.)

Ivey is a jaw-dropping athlete who has game-breaking speed in the open court. His three-point shot is improving and the 6-foot-4 guard has shown flashes of knowing how to run an offense, however it’s his truly otherworldly athleticism that sets him apart. (See the complete Jaden Ivey scouting report.)

Is San Antonio’s preference in the top four set in stone?

No, I don’t think it is. I have Banchero, Holmgren, Smith and Ivey all in the same tier. Banchero is the best fit with the current roster and you can make an argument that his offensive upside gives him the highest potential when considering best-case scenarios. That said, it’ll be a really close call picking between these four prospects.

If the Spurs get the first pick, I think it’d basically come down to the interview process. The plan would be to get to know all four of these guys and then pick the one who you trust the most to put in the work to be great. If that’s Ivey, the player who I have fourth on the Spurs Big Board, I’d be fine with that decision.

Are there any salary cap concerns with moving up in the draft?

While it’s true that the rookie scale is higher at the top of the draft, I don’t view that as a concern. Sure, it’d be more difficult to open up the necessary cap space for a max contract if the Spurs get lucky in the lottery, but that’s not a big enough deal to worry about.

The difference in the level of prospect you’d get in the top four is so much higher than the level of prospect you’ll get at nine or ten that it’s easily worth the larger contract obligation.

How disastrous would it be if the Spurs pick 10th, 11th or 12th?

If the Spurs move the wrong way, that’d be an unfortunate turn of events. As it turns out, the second tier of prospects start to drop off right around 10 or 11. At nine, San Antonio can be reasonably confident that someone interesting will fall to them. Any lower than that and the confidence level begins to dry up.

Do the Spurs become instant contenders if they win the lottery?

Landing the No. 1 pick would obviously be great news for the franchise but there are no David Robinsons or Tim Duncans in this draft. The depth of the draft is satisfactory, however the top of the draft lacks a surefire star.

The Spurs wouldn’t become instant championship contenders but their chances of making the 2023 playoffs would notably increase if they get lucky in the lottery tonight. Additionally, it’d be fair to say San Antonio’s path to championship contention would become clearer if they can get a top four pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.