Imagining the Seven Possible Outcomes for the Spurs in the NBA Draft Lottery

The day that fans of the San Antonio Spurs have been waiting for since the start of the 2022-23 campaign is finally here. At around 7 p.m. CT, the NBA draft lottery will take place and ping pong balls will decide which pick the Spurs will have in the first round.

We know that San Antonio will have one of the top seven picks in the draft. There’s a 14% chance the Spurs get the first pick, a 40.1% chance the Spurs get a top three pick and a 66.9% chance the Spurs get a top five pick. 

In this thought exercise, I will react to each of the seven possible outcomes and lay out what I believe will be San Antonio’s strategy for each pick.

Spurs Get the No. 1 Pick

Reaction: Time to celebrate! Victor Wembanyama is the next legend to wear the Silver and Black! Spurs fans would go honking downtown. Some of us would instinctively drive to the airport and cheer any planes that land. 

It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that getting the first pick and drafting Wembanyama would guarantee the Spurs will be relevant for at least the next five to seven years.

Spurs Get the No. 2 Pick

Reaction: Pain.

Sure, getting the second pick is the next best thing to getting the first pick but this would be a painful outcome. Watching the Spurs get so close to Wembanyama without getting him would be something that still hurts even months from now.

Thankfully, though, I truly think Scoot Henderson will be a very good consolation prize. He’d give the Spurs a potential superstar point guard to build around. Eventually the pain of missing out on Wembanyama will be replaced by the excitement of watching Henderson grow and develop.

Spurs Get the No. 3 Pick

Reaction: Fire up the trade machine!

While the game plan after getting pick one or two is straightforward, the third pick is where things will begin to get messy. In this scenario, the hope is that Brandon Miller gets drafted No. 2 and Henderson drops to the Spurs at three. If that happens, the Spurs excitedly pick Henderson and thank their lucky stars.

If Wembanyama goes one and Henderson goes two, I think a trade is a likely outcome. One option is the Spurs trade up from three to two to get Henderson. In doing so, the Spurs would likely need to trade away some of their future draft capital. 

The other option is trading the pick to the highest bidder. Despite Miller’s off the court issues, there will surely be a long line of teams interested in acquiring him in the draft. Trading the third pick for a treasure trove of assets would fit with San Antonio’s current plan to build methodically and conscientiously through the draft.

Spurs Get the No. 4 Pick

Reaction: Let’s make a deal.

Like the third pick, the fourth pick is another outcome that could very well result in a trade. I don’t think trading up into the top three would be likely at this position but trading down would definitely be in the cards. For a team that falls in love with a player not named Wembanyama, Henderson or Miller, this pick will be targeted early on in the process and the Spurs would likely listen.

Trading the fourth pick for a later lottery pick and one or two additional first round picks makes a ton of sense for San Antonio. 

Spurs Get the No. 5 Pick

Reaction: Swing for the fences!

At pick five, I think the Spurs keep the selection and take the player with the most upside. You don’t want to pick a role player in the top five so going with a high ceiling prospect like Amen Thompson is the likeliest outcome. If he’s not available, going with his twin brother Ausar Thompson is another possibility.

Other possibilities that would fit the high ceiling archetype are Cam Whitmore and Taylor Hendricks. 

Spurs Get the No. 6 Pick

Reaction: Meh.

The draft odds say No. 6 is the most likely outcome for the Spurs. But as a Spurs fan, even if you’re mentally prepared for non-Wembanyama outcomes and fully understand the odds, ending up with the sixth pick would feel extremely deflating. All those losses for the sixth pick? Ugh.

But, yeah, at six I don’t think the Spurs would have to be as married to the idea of a high ceiling prospect. Prospects with possible role playing outcomes like Jarace Walker and Anthony Black would come into play.

Spurs Get the No. 7 Pick

Reaction: It was rigged! They hate us because we’re a small market franchise and a former ABA team!

Seriously, though, this would be a really sad result. Depressing, even. The only sliver of a silver lining would be that the pressure would be off the front office and they’d be free to think outside the box. Since the Spurs already got screwed by getting the seventh pick, no one would flinch if the front office decides to reach for a player like Cason Wallace, Gradey Dick or, hell, even a guy like Leonard Miller.

In conclusion, the NBA should give the Spurs the first pick to limit the drama and make everything right in the basketball universe. Thanks in advance, Adam Silver.