Owning only the No. 59 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, the Spurs aren’t expecting to add an immediate impact rookie. In reality, odds are good whoever’s name deputy commissioner Adam Silver calls second-to-last in Newark, N.J., will struggle simply to make the Spurs’ roster.
Yet the late second round is not always fallow ground, and the Spurs need only to look at their own draft history for proof. In 1999, they drafted an unknown Argentine guard named Emanuel Ginobili at No. 57. Express-News staff writer Jeff McDonald combs the archives for other “50-and-over” players who might offer the Spurs a bit of draft-night hope:
Selected: 53rd overall (third round) by Portland in 1988
The payoff: Bruising forward eventually developed into a key component of playoff teams in New York, Charlotte and Miami, winning NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1993-94, making the All-Star team in 2001 and being named third-team All-NBA in 1996-97.
Selected: 66th overall (third round) by Sacramento in 1985
The payoff: Diminutive guard went on to become one of NBA’s most lethal scorers in Denver, averaging a career high of 26.5 points in 1990-91. Twice led the NBA in 3-pointers and made one All-Star team in 1992.
Selected: 72nd overall (fourth round) by Utah in 1982
The payoff: The 7-foot-4 center led the league in blocked shots in four of his 10 seasons, won two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and made one All-Star appearance.
Selected: 60th overall (third round) by Portland in 1986
The payoff: In a prelude to the overseas invasion to come, Petrovic enjoyed his best years in New Jersey, where he averaged 20-plus points in back-to-back seasons and earned All-NBA recognition in 1992-93 before his death in a car accident.
Selected: 50th overall by Phoenix in 1988
The payoff: The NBA’s most accurate 3-point shooter in history had a hand in five championships, including two with the Spurs.
Selected: 160th overall (seventh round) by Milwaukee in 1985
The payoff: Pugnacious swingman lasted 11 NBA seasons and won three NBA titles, two with Houston and one with the Spurs.
Selected: 55th overall by Spurs in 2002
The payoff: Long considered the one who got away for Spurs fans, Ginobili’s teammate on the Argentine national team developed into a steady starter in Houston. In 2010-11, averaged 20.2 points and nine rebounds.
Selected: 57th by Phoenix in 2005
The payoff: Traded on draft day to Orlando, where he spent three seasons backing up Dwight Howard. Broke out after return to Suns in 2010, averaging a double-double (15.4 points, 10 rebounds) this past season.
Selected: 60th by Sacramento in 2011
The payoff: Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant was anything but, averaging 14.2 points and 5.2 assists for the Kings after the All-Star break to garner a second-team All-Rookie mention.
Selected: 127th overall (sixth round) by Golden State in 1987
The payoff: Became sixth man for high-scoring Warriors teams of the early 1990s, averaging a career high of 18.9 points in 1991-92.
Selected: 54th overall (third round) by Houston in 1985
The payoff: Forward spent 10 of 13 NBA seasons with the Timberwolves, averaging 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in 1990-91.
Selected: 87th overall (fourth round) by Detroit in 1985
The payoff: The 5-6 Lilliputian lasted 13 seasons, averaging a high of 16 points with Sacramento in 1991-92. Memorably won 1986 slam dunk contest while with the Hawks.
Selected: 51st overall by New Jersey in 2003
The payoff: Has long been one of league’s deadliest 3-point shooters, leading NBA in long balls made in 2004-05 and percentage in 2009-10.
Selected: 55th overall by Portland in 2009
The payoff: Still to come, perhaps. Hooked on with Spurs as backup point guard late in 2011-12 and finished with 61 points in final two regular-season games.