San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have mined international gold in drafts past.
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2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
No. 28
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Devin Brown (restricted)
Robert Horry (player option)
Linton Johnson (team option)
Sean Marks (unrestricted)
Tony Massenburg (unrestricted)
Glenn Robinson (unrestricted)
Mike Wilks (unrestricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2004: 28. Beno Udrih, Italy
52. Romain Sato, Xavier
57. Sergei Karaulov, Russia
2003: 28. Leandro Barbosa, Brazil
2002: 26. John Salmons, Miami
56. Luis Scola, Spain
57. Randy Holcomb, San Diego St.
2001: 28. Tony Parker, France
56. Robertas Javokas, Lithuania
58. Bryan Bracey, Oregon
2000: 41. Chris Carawell, Duke
54. Corey Hightower, Indian Hills CC
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Thanks in part to Derek Fisher’s miraculous buzzer-beater, the Spurs 2003-04 season ended in the second round despite a 57-25 record. The Spurs spent the summer reinforcing their depth – most nobably with the acquisition of Brent Barry – and set their sights on a third trip to the Finals in seven years.

What happened? No surprises here. The Spurs were a team built to play well into June, and accomplished that without much consternation. A 12-3 November and a 13-3 December quickly vaulted the Spurs toward the top of the Western Conference, where they remained throughout the year, finishing 59-23, and securing a playoff berth for the eighth straight season.

Along the way, the Spurs continued to upgrade the second unit, shipping Malik Rose to New York for Nazr Mohammed and acquiring instant offense in free agent Glenn Robinson in April.

Tim Duncan was used more sparingly (career-low 33.4 mpg) to preserve energy for the postseason, but still led the team in scoring (20.3 ppg), rebounding (11.1 rpg) and blocked shots (2.64 bpg). Since Duncan joined the Spurs, San Antonio’s 438-186 mark is the best in the NBA.

Tony Parker (16.6 ppg) and Manu Ginobili (16.0) formed one of the quickest and deadliest – both shot better than 47 percent – backcourts in the NBA.

Defense was the team’s hallmark. San Antonio held teams to 42.6 percent shooting and a league-low 88.4 points per game. Duncan and Bruce Bowen were teammates on the All-Defensive First Team.

The Spurs were met with little resistance from Denver, Seattle and Phoenix, posting a combined 12-4 mark en route to a Finals matchup with the Detroit Pistons in a clash of the last two NBA Champions.

What now? Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are all locked up through 2010 or beyond. At the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, Duncan will be 34, Ginobili 32 and Parker 28. For good measure, Barry, Bowen, Rasho Nesterovic and rookie point guard Beno Udrih all have three seasons left on existing deals.

With the 28th selection and no need for immediate help, the Spurs are a team that can afford the luxury of drafting a project or a European player who may spend another year or two overseas.

If there’s a need, it’s at the small forward, where Horry and Robinson are free agents, leaving only Bowen. More front court beef would also be welcome. Mohammed was a nice acquisition who is entering the final year of his deal.