Analysis: Spurs Gaffe During The Draft

By Gregory Moore
Updated: June 27, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — After watching this year’s draft, I have to say that I give the Spurs a fat “F” for their picks this year.

There were several players on the board that R.C. Buford and company didn’t really consider in the mix for next year’s team; namely the fact that they did not draft Bill Walker from Kansas State or Chris Douglas-Roberts from Memphis.

The Spurs had the 26th pick in this year’s draft and picked George Hill from IUPUI. The6-foot-2 guard, spent the past four years at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Last season he was named the Summit League Player of the Year, earned First Team All-Conference honors and was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press.

Hill led the Summit League and ranked 16th nationally in scoring with 21.5 points per game while shooting .545 from the field (195-245) and .450 (49-109) from three-point range. He averaged 6.8 rebounds– posting nine double-doubles, 4.3 assists and 1.78 steals in 32 games.

Hill scored in double figures in all 32 games, finishing with 20 or more points 16 times, and topped the 30-point mark in seven contests. He appeared in just five games as a junior before missing the rest of the season with a broken foot.

As a sophomore, Hill earned First Team All-Conference honors, averaging a team-high 18.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He was named to the league All-Newcomer Team as a freshman. For his career Hill appeared in 95 games for the Jaguars, averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.63 steals.

They then traded the rights of their second pick, Goran Dragic to the Phoenix Suns and their pick of Malik Hairston, a 2009 pick and cash considerations.

With the 57th pick, they took James Gist.

Hairston, a 6-foot-6 forward, spent four seasons at the University of Oregon. He earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 honors his sophomore and senior seasons. In his final season with Ducks he averaged a team-high 16.3 points and 4.8 rebounds while handing out 2.1 assists per game.

He also ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting connecting on 43.3 percent (52-120) of his shots from behind the arc and scored 20 or more points 11 times. As a sophomore Hairston led the Ducks in scoring, averaging 15.0 points and ranked second on the team in rebounding (4.7 rpg).

He was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team after starting in all 27 games, averaging 13.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. During his four years at Oregon, he averaged 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting .504 (612-1,214) from the field and .395 (145-367) from long range.

Gist is out of the University of Maryland. Last season the 6-foot-9 forward was named to the All-ACC Second Team and ACC All-Defensive Team after finishing eighth in ACC in scoring (15.9 ppg), fourth in rebounding (7.9 rpg), third in field goal percentage (.496, 194-391) and second in blocks (2.33 bpg).

As a junior Gist earned All-ACC Honorable Mention after averaging 12.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. For his career the four-year letterman appeared in 130 games with the Terps, averaging 10.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.77 blocks.

While these may be good picks, the Spurs blew a tremendous opportunity in grabbing at least one, possibly two, impact players in this draft. In this year’s draft, the Spurs could have gotten themselves a maximum of two scorers to help with the scoring drought they had in this year’s playoffs.

Those players that were available were Memphis’ Chris Douglas-Roberts and Kansas State’s Bill Walker.

The Spurs could have waited on a point guard had they gotten Roberts with the 26th pick.

At 6-foot-7, he would have been the perfect back up to Manu Ginobili and could have played with him in a line up, giving the fact that the Spurs’ other back ups at that position were Michael Finley and Brent Barry.

Roberts was one of the players who definitely would have given the team tremendous offensive punch because of his slashing ability and the fact that his 81-inch wingspan would have been an asset on defense against a guy like a Kobe Bryant.

Roberts went in the second round to the New Jersey Nets as the 41st pick.

The Spurs also had a chance at getting Bill Walker from K-State.

Walker, a 6-foot-6 guard who played high school ball with O.J. Mayo, would have been a natural SG for the Spurs who could run with Parker and Ginobili.

With his athleticism, he would have been able to force teams to be honest on their defensive assignments and possibly could have become one of the team’s biggest threats from the inside out.

He is definitely a lot more athletic than Harriston, who was the 48th pick in this year’s draft and had he not had knee problems this season, he would have been a top 15 pick in the draft.

Even though the Spurs needed a back up for Parker, this year’s debacle came from the fact that management did not assess something that was crucial; the age of the team.

While Hill may have been a good selection for this team, a first round pick he is not; not when you have the chance to get two celebrated collegians who have been the talk of mock drafts for at least two years.

The Spurs literally could have packaged their 57th pick, a player like Ian Mahini and cash considerations to get a PG that was already in the league and was being developed or they could have found that PG with the 57th pick.

The fact that they let two golden opportunities slip through their fingers may come back and bite them next season.