And as they say, the rest is history.
Thanks to their consistent superstar, the Spurs haven't had a single draft spot higher than No. 20 since then. Even so, they have developed a reputation as one of the top drafting teams in the NBA. Drafting outside the lottery can sometimes be a shot in the dark, but the Spurs have made a science of it.
Let's look at all 34 players the Spurs have picked in the NBA draft since Duncan and see how each pick grades on a traditional A-to-F scale.
Higher picks will obviously be graded more strictly. Also, if a considerable amount of more talented players were available at the time of the pick, the grade will be lower.
No player will be given an "incomplete."
For clarification, rookies whom the Spurs may have acquired on draft night by trading a player already on their roster to another team (I'm looking at you, Kawhi Leonard) are not considered because they were not officially drafted by the team and weren't acquired via a draft pick of the same year.
However, if the Spurs picked a player and traded him on draft night or later that summer, the haul that the Spurs got in return will be taken into account in the pick's grade. If the player was still with the Spurs at the start of the preseason, the pick's grade will be based upon him.
I know it's complicated, but just stay with me.
And in case you were wondering, Leonard would have been an A+.
Note: All statistics and transaction information is from Basketball Reference, unless otherwise indicated.