Twenty years after they selected Tim Duncan with the first overall pick in the NBA draft, the San Antonio Spurs seemingly entered draft night in Brooklyn with a purpose. Heading into the draft, reports surfaced that both LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green were on the trading block, with speculation that San Antonio’s brain trust was in pursuit of a top-10 pick.
Armed with the 29th and 59th overall picks, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich and General Manager R.C. Buford faced a tall task in finding an impact player for a team that won 61 games last season and 67 games the previous season. With no lottery suitors immediately in sight, the 29th pick yielded Derrick White, a senior combo guard from Colorado.
Standing at 6-5, White averaged 18 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds at Colorado, while running the point. Along with Dwyane Wade and Markelle Fultz, White is the only other player to boast those averages for a Division I college in the last twenty years.
“He’s a good basketball player,” Buford told reporters after the draft. “He’s not really a point guard. He’s not really an off guard. He’s a guard. He can shoot the ball. We think he can defend at a higher level than he has up to this point. When you have to do so much for the team like he did at Colorado, he couldn’t get in foul trouble, he needed his energy to score.”
With the 59th pick, the Spurs selected Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame, who averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds his senior year. The 6-7 swingman led Clemson in scoring the last three seasons, capturing All-ACC First Team and All-ACC Third Team honors along the way. Blossomgame and White will join Dejounte Murray in Summer League play for the Spurs next month.
As NBA free agency approaches in July and the Spurs reportedly showing interest in Chris Paul, Paul George, and George Hill, Buford closed out his comments by addressing Aldridge, who has taken the brunt of the criticism for San Antonio’s season ending sweep.
“The thing I'd say is we've got a team that's won 128 games, were in the conference finals," said Buford. "We're happy with the group we have. If we can make it better, we'll do it at any opportunity we can. But it's more than just players. It's the fit for our group, and our goals for this team are to continue to compete for championships, and LaMarcus helps us do that. So, that's where we sit with LaMarcus.”