If you ask any basketball enthusiast which franchises in the NBA are the most historic most of them will answer with one of the two; the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics. Both teams have multiple championships to their names and some of the greatest names in basketball have dawned their respective colors. The San Antonio Spurs have a bit of work to do but they are on their way to joining the Lakers and Celtics in the upper echelon of the league. All of the success they've achieved over the years can be attributed to the front office that surrounds itself with the right players and coaches best fit to win championships. General manager R.C. Buford has been a part of the Spurs organization since 2002 and the team hasn't looked back since bringing him on board.
Why would anyone think of swapping him out for another manager when the team has won four titles with him manning the ship? He is now the second longest tenured GM in the league behind Pat Riley. If that doesn't define success than I don't know what does. The team experienced success before Buford was brought into office but a majority of it has come with him doing the work behind the scenes. It's hard to argue with 18 consecutive seasons with 50 or more wins. None of this would have happened if San Antonio wasn't smart with their draft picks. While many of the players they've taken on draft night have become synonymous with the Spurs, some have become things of the past with nothing left to show for their time in the great state of Texas. Here are the players who will forever be associated with the Spurs and those who have been forgotten at this point.
15 Best: DeJuan Blair
Here's one of the hidden gems in the 2009 draft. DeJuan Blair is mostly known for not having any ACLs which makes it even more impressive that he made to the the premiere basketball organization despite the limitation. Blair was drafted by San Antonio with the 37th pick and wasted no time in contributing in his rookie season. He averaged 7.8 points per game on 55 percent shooting from the field during his first year. Not bad for a player taken so late in the draft. The production from Blair continued to rise from season to season but the additions of Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter cut into the his playing time.
This didn't sit well with Blair and he wound up signing with the Dallas Mavericks in 2013. His professional basketball career in America may be on its last legs as he is now playing with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Developmental League.
14 Worst: Dwayne Schintzius
Dwayne Schintzius had one of the best mullets during the '90s. His hair was on point but his basketball game wasn't. Taken with the 24th overall pick in the 1990 draft, Schintzius had his problems off the court before entering the NBA. San Antonio took a chance with the center and hoped that known of those issues during his college years wouldn't come back up. While his behavior was fine Schintzius's production on the court was more than forgettable. He played just one season for the Spurs averaging 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per game and Five teams gave him a chance before he made the decision to retire in 1999.
He'll always be remembered for his role as a Russian basketball player in Whoopi Goldberg's film Eddie. Sadly, Schintzius passed away in 2012 after battling Leukemia for three years.
13 Best: Beno Udrih
Beno Udrih is one of the few draft picks taken in the last 15 years to actually play for the Spurs. Since they make the playoffs year after year San Antonio doesn't exactly acquire great draft picks (clearly this isn't an issue since the wins make up for it). Udrih served as a backup point guard for Tony Parker during the first three years of his professional career and has some fancy hardware to show for it. He is now the proud owner of two championship rings after the team won the NBA Finals in 2005 and 2007. Not bad for someone taken with the 28th pick back in 2004. He is now a member of the Detroit Pistons after they claimed him off of waivers last October.
12 Worst: Luis Scola
Luis Scola was taken so late in the 2002 draft (56th overall pick) that players in that draft range barely ever play in the league. Scola turned out to be a reliable power forward once he made it to the NBA. Unfortunately for the Spurs he never played for them. They drafted an excellent player, unfortunately they were never able to reap the benefits of their wise selection. San Antonio attempted to buy out Scola's Euroleague contract but the asking price was too much for a player that had yet to play in the United States. After five years of holding onto him, Scola wound up being traded to the Houston Rockets in 2007 for Vassilis Spanoulis, a Greek point guard who ended up being a huge bust along with a second-round draft pick. The Spurs let a decent front-court player slip out of their hands. Good thing Tim Duncan was around during these years.
11 Best: Tiago Splitter
Before making his way to the NBA Tiago Splitter saw success in the Euroleague with Baskonia, a professional team based in Vitora-Gasteiz, Spain. After being drafted in 2007 Splitter played a key role for the Spurs during his five years in San Antonio. However he didn't become a member of the team until 2010 as he continued to play for Baskonia until he opted out of his contract and signed with the Spurs. Splitter did nothing out of the ordinary but was a solid player that could contribute on both ends of the floor when need be. After two seasons he found himself starting a majority of the contest and became a huge part of the championship team in 2014. While Splitter is now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, he will always be remembered for his part in the 2013-14 season.
10 Worst: James Anderson
Taken with the 20th pick in the 2010 draft James Anderson was the highest draft pick since Tim Duncan was selected in 1997 with the 1st overall pick. The move caused excitement for the organization and its fans; too bad Anderson never panned out. The guard who drew comparisons to Michael Finley had sub-par ball handling skills and was too inconsistent to obtain a permanent spot in Gregg Popovich's rotation. This draft wasn't the deepest but there were players such as Quincy Pondexter and Jordan Crawford who could have made a bigger impact than Anderson.
Never a reliable three-point shooter, Anderson only averaged three points per game during his three seasons with the Spurs and was eventually waived by them in 2012. He is now playing in Turkey after six seasons in the NBA.
9 Best: Sean Elliott
Sean Elliott was one of the most reliable small forwards in the NBA during his professional basketball days. His jumper was lethal as he could knock down a shot from mid range or behind the arc with relative ease. It's exactly what a team needs to space the floor to create opportunities not just for himself but for the rest of his teammates as well. Other then one season with the Detroit Pistons, Elliott spent his entire 12-year career with San Antonio and is one of the most beloved Spurs of all time. The two-time All-star was a perfect sidekick for David Robinson as the two made several deep playoffs which included a championship in 1999.
Elliott is the fifth in all-time leader in three-point field goals made (563) in Spurs history which makes me wonder how Elliott fair in the NBA today. A number of teams could use a player with his shooting ability but hypothetical situations like this will continue to exist as long as the game of basketball is being played. Best to just enjoy the product that's currently being put out.
8 Worst: Livio Jean-Charles
San Antonio took Livio Jean-Charles, a french player currently in the Developmental League with the Austin Spurs, with the 28th overall pick in the 2013 draft. This was the lone pick of the first round for the Spurs that year and it really hasn't worked out yet. Jean-Charles played in five preseason games last year but didn't do enough to maintain a roster spot as as the Spurs waived him shortly after his preseason stint. He was supposed to be one of the better players San Antonio had stashed overseas. This obviously wasn't the case since Jean-Charles continues to find himself in basketball purgatory. He's currently averaging nine points with Austin which isn't very impressive since the talent level just isn't the same. It wouldn't surprise me if we never saw him in the NBA again.
7 Best: Manu Ginóbili
If you're compiling a list of the best sixth men in NBA history there's no way your list can omit Manu Ginóbili. While he could easily have been in the starting lineup during his early years with the Spurs, Ginóbili was used in a reserve role in Popovich's rotation and it clearly paid off since he's been providing instant offense off the bench for 15 years. He's been inserted into the starting lineup on certain occasions but when his career is all said and done he will without a doubt be remembered for being one of the greatest sixth men to ever lace up a pair of sneakers. With four NBA titles and two All-Star selections under his belt Ginóbili is one the best international player the league has ever seen right next to Dirk Nowitzki and Hakeem Olajuwon.
It's amazing to think that he was taken with the second to last pick in the 1999 draft. At 39 years old retirement may be in the near future for the Argentinian and it's safe to say that the Spurs won't be the same without him.
6 Worst: Leon Smith
This pick resulted in nothing. Literally. Not because Leon Smith was a bad player (he was but that's not the point) but instead due to the fact that he never even played for the Spurs. After being drafted in 1999 with the 29th overall pick, Smith was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks for the draft rights to Gordan Giriček and a second-round draft pick in 2000. San Antonio wound up trading Giriček to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002 before he could ever even put on a Spurs jersey. The second-round draft pick turned into Chris Carrawell who also never played for them. There's really no excuse for a first-round draft pick to turn into nothing regardless of how early or late the pick takes place in the round. Definitely one of the more forgettable moments in draft pick history for the Spurs.
5 Best: Tony Parker
For the past 17 years a number of outstanding point guards have entered the NBA. Tony Parker is one of them. Selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2001 draft Parker is a six-time All-Star and earned the title of Final MVP back in 2007. That reward is quite the accomplishment considering he was playing on the same team as Tim Duncan. Parker has averaged 16.6 points on 49 percent shooting thus far on his career and is always a threat during the playoffs. The dynamic point guard could finish around the rim in a multitude of ways Both Ginóbili and Parker would be drafter much higher in their respective draft classes if teams knew what kind of players they would turn out to be. Just goes to show that the Spurs have a knack for finding those diamonds in the rough when it comes to scouting the best talent.
4 Worst: Wiley Peck
Averaging a double-double in college is always going to catch the eyes of scouts looking for the best talent. Willy Peck was one of those players with those credentials at Mississippi State and he entered the 1979 draft with high expectations. Peck never lived up to the hype surrounding him and lasted just one season in the league. In that one season he averaged 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 12 minutes of play. He appeared in 52 games for San Antonio before being sent off to the Dallas Mavericks in the 1980 expansion draft.
The Mavericks never gave Peck a chance and used as trade bait to acquire a second-round draft pick from the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix waived him that same year and Peck never played again in the NBA. Hard to believe that his career came to an end so quickly after the success he saw in college.
3 Best: David Robinson
Anyone that was a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team is regarded as being one of the best players the NBA has ever seen (except for Christian Laettner). David Robinson was on that team and is regarded as one of the best two-way centers to set foot on a basketball court. After joining the Navy and playing for the Navy Midshipmen men's basketball team, Robinson entered the NBA Draft in 1987 and was selected by San Antonio with the 1st overall pick of the night. With astounding career averages of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game Robinson was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2009 and is synonymous with the Spurs to this day as he spent all of his 14 years in the NBA with them.
To this day Robinson is the only player from the Navy to make it to the big leagues. The Admiral will forever be remembered as one of the most dominant centers the game of basketball has ever seen.
2 Worst: Alfredrick Hughes
Alfredrick Hughes was a star player coming out of Chicago back in 1985. The shooting guard from Loyola was taken with the 14th overall pick in that year's draft but was never able to replicate the success he experienced during his collegiate playing days. As a rookie Hughes averaged 5.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12 minutes per game. This would be his lone season in the NBA as the Spurs waived him in 1986. His professional career carried over to Italy and Canada but he never achieved much outside of the United States. Stints in the World Basketball League, Global Basketball Association and Continental Basketball Association occurred before Hughes retired in 1994. Joe Dumars and Terry Porter were both up for grabs but the Spurs made the mistake of going with Hughes instead.
He is now a sales consultant at Homewood Chevrolet in the suburbs of Chicago. Not a very luxurious lifestyle when compared to the one he could of had if he was successful in his basketball career.
1 Best: Tim Duncan
There is no one in the game of basketball that has ever used the glass as effectively as Tim Duncan. Where do we ever start with The Big Fundamental? Lets look at his endless list of accomplisments: five-time NBA Champion, three-time Finals MVP, two-time NBA MVP, and fifteen-time All-Star. Unreal. Duncan isn't just one of the best power forwards, he might be THE best power forward of all time. I can't imagine what was going through the minds of the rest of the teams in the league when they found out that him and David Robinson would be playing on the same team. When you think of twin-tower duos you think of these two.
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are good but they have nothing on the Spurs legends that have 25 All-Star selections between the two. While Robinson may have averaged a few more points and blocks than Duncan when it was all said and done, Duncan has more championship hardware to showoff his hard work and efforts. While LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol have filled in nicely for him, the Spurs just don't look the same without Duncan on the floor. They're still one of the best teams in the league but the Hall of Famer made it clear that no one will ever be better than him at the four and five spots for the San Antonio Spurs.