Breaking down the San Antonio Spurs’ confusing NBA Draft trade

People were shocked when the San Antonio Spurs traded the eighth pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

San Antonio Spurs
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs fans were excited about the possibilities heading into the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft Wednesday evening.

San Antonio boasted the fourth and eighth picks in the annual event after a 60-loss season. Would the Spurs use one of these selections to acquire a proven veteran to team up with stud youngster Victor Wembanyama? Perhaps, they’d add two high-end prospects to help expedite what has already been a long-term rebuild.

When general manager Brian Wright opted for UConn guard Stephon Castle at No. 4, Spurs fans had to be elated. He played a major role in the Huskies winning the second of back-to-back championships last season and is a perfect backcourt fit with Wemby in the frontcourt.

So far, so good.

Then, the Spurs selected another guard in that of the high-upside Rob Dillingham from Kentucky at eight. Some had him as the top prospect in the draft after a stellar freshman season with the Wildcats. Positional need be damned, value trumped everything.

Good stuff, right?

Not so fast. Immediately after the pick, reports broke that San Antonio had dealt the rights to Dillingham to the conference-rival Minnesota Timberwolves. OK, cool. What was the return? A 2031 unprotected first-round pick and 2030 pick swap.

What? San Antonio legitimately traded the eighth pick in the NBA Draft for picks that will end up being used on individuals who are currently in fourth grade. The madness. But let us explain before you Spurs fans freak out.

Related: NBA insider reveals huge advantage San Antonio Spurs have in free agency

San Antonio Spurs NBA Draft trade made perfect sense

San Antonio Spurs trade, Rob Dillingham
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio is playing the long game. The team knows it has a generational talent in Wemby. Selecting Castle at four was already a win for the rebuilding team. Meanwhile, that eighth pick was acquired from the Toronto Raptors in a trade during the 2022-23 season. It was already icing on the cake.

In reality, the Spurs took advantage of a Timberwolves team that needed to add more to their rotation without money to spend in free agency and draft picks. Very few assets.

We have no idea how valuable that unprotected 2031 first-round pick is going to be. The 2030 pick swap is also lightly protected (No. 1 pick).

These are two big-time assets that the Spurs could use in a trade down the road. Teams generally don’t give up unprotected first-round picks. They are valuable when looking to pull off a blockbuster trade.

Simply put, Wright and Co. gave themselves flexibility moving forward while still adding a legit long-term starter in the backcourt. It was a win for the Spurs.

Read more: Latest San Antonio Spurs news and rumors

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