The Spurs' 20th selection in Thursday night's NBA Draft was their highest since 1997, when they picked Tim Duncan first-overall.
Duncan and David Robinson remain the lone No. 1 picks in the last 20 years to win championships with the squads that drafted them. Since landing "The Big Fundamental," the Spurs have not tasted the lottery again, winning four titles, and winning 50-plus games in every season.
Small-market teams with annually low draft spots then need the right combination of meticulous scouting and luck.
San Antonio's front office unearthed international gems in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, two potential Hall of Famers, picked at 26 and 58, respectively.
GM R.C. Buford and his staff snatched years of "get out of jail free" cards because the French speedster and Argentine slasher far exceeded expectations. After grabbing Parker in 2001, the Spurs' brass experienced a draft drought that spanned six or seven years.
Do the names Ian Mahinmi, Damir Markota, Jack McClinton, and Sergei Karaulov mean anything to you? Late picks-turned NBA superstars, right?
Even the smartest guys and the most successful bats strike out. The famine ended emphatically in 2008, when Buford swiped George Hill, a little-known combo guard from IUPUI. He emerged in his rookie year as a standout two-way contributor with above-average athleticism.
He erupted in his sophomore year, filling in admirably in the Spurs' toughest month of the season for the injured Parker, and finished as the runner-up in the Most Improved Player voting.
Pitt product DeJuan Blair, the best rebounder in college basketball, fell to the Spurs last year at 37.
If Tiago Splitter completes the NBA jump as expected (more on that in this slideshow), make that three straight A+ picks.
Given that string of smashing success, Buford faced pressure to produce an instant contributor. By most accounts, he did.
The Spurs selected Oklahoma State Cowboys star James Anderson, a dead-eye shooter with pro-level athleticism.
Buford also fetched British center Ryan Reynolds, an intriguing but raw prospect he can stash overseas for a few years.