As much success as the San Antonio Spurs have enjoyed at top of the NBA Draft, they've had extraordinary fortune with later selections as well. For Tim Duncan, there is Manu Ginobili. For David Robinson, there is Tony Parker. For Victor Wembanyama, there is Kawhi Leonard. With that, we examine the five best draft picks the Spurs have ever made in regard to contribution compared to where they were taken.

Additional criteria for this list includes what these draft picks accomplished in San Antonio. That eliminates players like Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa, Luis Scola, John Paxson and Derrick White, among others, who went on to star elsewhere or play key roles on other champions.

It should also be noted that though James Silas and Johnny Moore – whose numbers hang in the Frost Bank Center rafters -started their NBA careers with the Spurs, they were drafted after the first round by other organizations. In Moore's case, he arrived just a day later via trade with the Seattle Supersonics.

Keldon Johnson continues Spurs' lucky No. 29 streak

Keldon Johnson represents a stretch in which the Spurs repeatedly turned late first round picks into key contributors. They took Kyle Anderson 30th in 2014, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White both at 29 in 2016 and '17 before coming away with Johnson, also with the 29th selection, in 2019.

The longest tenured Spur on the roster now, Johnson earned praise from legendary coach Gregg Popovich early in his career and has served as the lone one-the-court constant as the team's transitioned past the DeMar DeRozan led teams to Wembanyama. The squad's leading scorer two seasons ago at 22 points per game, Johnson finished third in that category this past year to start the Wemby era.

Dejounte Murray nets Spurs major draft capital

An All-Star in 2022, it was the last of Dejounte Murray's six seasons in the Alamo City, including one in which he missed every game because of an ACL tear. He was a member of the last Spurs team to make a playoff run (2017 Western Conference Finals).

By the time the 29th pick in the 2016 draft left San Antonio two summers ago, he was averaging more than 21 points per game and had established himself enough to net three first round picks in exchange, none of which the the Black and Silver have used yet.

Kawhi Leonard silences LeBron James 

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks with Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) after a game at Frost Bank Center.
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

This comes with a technicality because the Indiana Pacers took Kawhi Leonard. They just did so for the Spurs. As part of an arranged trade that would send San Antonio favorite George Hill to Indiana, Leonard put on a Pacers hat before the draft night deal became official.

While 15 is hardly a low pick, the “Klaw” turned into the kind of difference maker teams covet at the very top. Not to mention, no one envisioned what Leonard would become. That is, aside from Popovich to a certain extent.

Before the San Diego State product's first training camp, Popovich proclaimed the 6-foot-7 forward would become the “Face of the Spurs.” Ironically, Leonard is the one superstar who has left San Antonio through its storied past. Though the departure came after he restored the franchise to championship prominence.

It's no coincidence that Leonard's arrival ended a three year stint in which the Spurs failed to win a playoff game beyond the first round. After a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2012, he proved instrumental in San Antonio's back-to-back Finals appearances the next two years, including an MVP performance in 2014 that ended LeBron James' reign with the Miami Heat.

By time time the current Los Angeles Clipper forced a trade that would land him with the Toronto Raptors (where he won another title and Finals MVP in his only season there), Leonard also won two Defensive Player of the Year awards, made two All-NBA First Teams and made two All-Star Games while in the Alamo City.

Tony Parker is Spurs' greatest point guard

Twenty four of the NBA's then 29 teams had a chance to draft the eventual Hall of Famer. With the 28th pick in 2001, the Spurs took the player that would become the greatest point guard in franchise history.

Tony Parker helped drive the Spurs into the second stage of the Duncan era, taking the starting spot five games in on his way to Rookie First-Team Honors. A year later, he trailed only Duncan in scoring through a regular season that ended with San Antonio's second championship.

When the Spurs won the Larry O'Brien Trophy for a fourth time, Parker took home 2007 Finals MVP honors in his third trip to the NBA's championship series. The French star ended his career with four league titles, six All-Star appearances and four All-NBA nods. His number 9 is retired by the Spurs, the commemorative jersey emblazoned with a 2023 Hall of Fame distinction.

Manu Ginobili becomes Spurs legend

Every one of the NBA's 29 teams then had at least one opportunity to take Manu Ginobili, most had multiple. Instead, the Argentinian guard lasted until the penultimate pick of the 1999 draft. From the 57th pick to Springfield, Massachusetts alongside the game's best ever players.

Ginobili arrived in San Antonio for the 2002-'03 season and together with Parker and Duncan would form the winningest trio in NBA history. They notched more regular season wins than any threesome and rank second in playoff victories in that category.

The “Big 3” dominated a nearly two decade run of Spurs basketball that's unprecedented and virtually unmatched in all of sports. Number 20 – his jersey now hanging in the rafters – was at the heart of it. Revered as one of the most competitive and passionate players in the game, Ginobili earned Rookie Second Team honors, won a Sixth Man of the Year, made two All-Star Games and two All-NBA teams.

Like Parker, Ginobili helped the Spurs win four championships. Unlike Parker, a big part of Ginobili's legacy is forged from international play that delivered multiple noteworthy medals, including Olympic Gold in 2004 after the Argentine National Team knocked off the United States in those semifinals. And, unlike Parker, the left-handed guard played his entire career with the Spurs.

Since those 16 seasons, he's remained active within the organization and now works as a special advisor.