Over the course of the last two-plus decades, perhaps no NBA team has had a track record quite like the San Antonio Spurs in terms of drafting impact players and key contributors.
Of course, part of this likely stems from the fact that Greg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in league history, and the Spurs had veterans like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to foster a tradition of winning. Still, it is hard to argue with San Antonio's history.
From trading former point guard George Hill to acquire former San Diego State standout Kawhi Leonard (who was drafted at n0. 15 by the Indiana Pacers in the 2011 NBA Draft) to selecting playoff sensation Derrick White with the 29th pick in 2017, the Spurs seem to have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough.
The Spurs made the playoffs as the no. 7 seed in the Western Conference and took the Denver Nuggets to the limit in the first round, ultimately falling in seven games.
With a roster that now appears to be centered around shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs will look to strike gold again with the no. 19 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
San Antonio has a history of trading up, and they may look to jump up a few spots once again, especially because of the potential uncertainty and volatility of this particular draft.
Keeping that in mind, here are three ideal options for San Antonio.
3. Trade up/for assets
The Spurs have multiple first-round draft picks, as they also own the no. 29 pick via the trade with the Toronto Raptors that sent Kawhi Leonard away and brought DeRozan to town.
Popovich and the front office may deem that they would like to move up, and they could probably package multiple first-rounders to move into the top 15 in the draft.
Doing so would give them more flexibility in terms of drafting specific personnel, especially in the frontcourt.
Players like Bruno Fernando, Brandon Clarke, Bol Bol and Rui Hachimura have been projected from anywhere in the top 10 to falling into the latter half of the draft.
San Antonio could use a forward to compliment the skill sets of LaMarcus Aldridge and Davis Bertans, and moving up would almost certainly assure that they could acquire an impact player to patrol the paint.
Alternatively, the Spurs could try to package the picks in addition to players to acquire someone such as Memphis point guard Mike Conley.
While San Antonio is hoping that Dejounte Murray (who missed the entire 2018-19 season) can still develop into a starting point guard, they lack a lot of ball handlers with good distribution. Patty Mills is usually better playing off-ball, and DeRozan could use an additional playmaker and shot creator in the backcourt.
Conley would also thrive in the pick-and-roll with Aldridge because of his ability to fade off of screens and knock down the midrange.
2. Keldon Johnson
Johnson was initially regarded as a top 10 talent heading into his freshman year at Kentucky.
He has good size and could play at the two or the three, which might be ideal for San Antonio's future considering that both Rudy Gay and Marco Belinelli will be free agents after next season.
Although he averaged just over 13 points per game, Johnson posted nearly six rebounds per contest and shot 38 percent from beyond the arc. His combination of athleticism and perimeter prowess could appeal to Popovich while also fitting in well with the Spurs' current identity.
Lonnie Walker was mostly underwhelming in his 17 appearances, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Johnson could prove to be an upgrade as Walker continues to find his role with the Spurs, and he has the physicality to be a solid defender in the league.
Johnson is not exactly a shot creator off the dribble, but he could easily develop that trait given his ability to make plays at the rim, and the Spurs are masters at spacing the floor.
1. PJ Washington
Johnson's teammate at Kentucky would also be an interesting fit in San Antonio.He averaged over 15 points and close to eight rebounds in his sophomore season with the Wildcats.
Washington has a strong post-up game, and could provide a dual threat alongside Aldridge in this respect. He has shown the ability to score utilizing jump hooks and turnarounds while also having the athleticism to make plays at the rim.
As has been previously noted, the Spurs need some scorers in the frontcourt. They may need to trade up or get aggressive in order to draft Washington, because teams like the Celtics and Pistons may target him in the middle of the first round as well.
While former draft picks like Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair were known more for their defensive skill set, Washington brings more offense to the table, and would certainly be capable of buying into Popovich's system.
Do not be surprised if the Spurs target one of these two Wildcat prospects with their first selection.