Tony Parker probably wasn’t among anyone’s favorite NBA betting picks fifteen years ago when his life changed. Parker was struggling to keep his cool in the green room at Madison Square Garden in New York fifteen years prior when an NBA staffer approached him and told him that, at 19 years of age, he would be drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Not that the journey to the stage was any less nerve wrecking with this knowledge in his back pocket, what with the Celtics changing their minds with just one minute on the clock and forcing Parker to return to his seat.
Parker eventually found a place with the Spurs, the second-to-last selection of the first round.
The selection did more than just secure Parker’s future. The selection situated Parker to become part of a legendary Big Three and starting point guard on four championship teams.
When they enter the draft on Thursday night boasting the penultimate pick (No.29 overall), it is highly unlikely that the Spurs will enjoy the same luck they encountered in 2001.
As far as General Manager R.C Buford is concerned, rather than the next big thing, the 29th pick won’t be anything more than a small piece in an offseason promising many sweeping changes.
For the Spurs, grabbing a player of Cory Joseph’s caliber would be sheer luck, with Buford admitting that the team is presently at the mercy of the talent pool and all they can do is try their hardest and hope for the best.
Precluding Ben Simmons, who will go first overall to Philadelphia, and Duke Forward who the Los Angeles Lakers will scoop up, the first round is unlikely to deliver anything other than the typical crap shoot.
If the Spurs are lucky they might still find some talent on the board when they draft, these including Brice Johnson (North Carolina), Cheick Diallo (Kansas), Damian Jones (Vanderbilt), Taurean Prince (Baylor) and DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph).
Looking overseas, the Spurs also have a few options in the form of Spanish forward Juan Hernangomez and the French Forward Guerschon Yabusele.
The Spurs decided to move up the draft in 2011, this netting them Kawhi Leonard at Number 15. They could do the same thing this time round. Though, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the draft.
Buford has often been heard looking fondly back at the 97 draft when the Spurs used the Number 1 overall pick on Duncan, though most fans would point to Parker’s selection in 2001 as the more relevant justification to believe that the magic can still happen.
Buford admits that that the Parker Selection highlighted one of those rare drafts where a lot of unlikely pieces fall into place to make the impossible happen. The Spurs Draft Room was consumed by all sorts of drama in 2001, everyone watching and holding their breath as various other teams selected other positions or players.
Naturally, Parker was unaware of all this drama as he returned to the green room. The ninety seconds he spent thinking he was looking towards a future with the Celtics only to face rejection still haunt him today.