21. 1997 — Tim Duncan
Original Pick: Tim Duncan
The Spurs have always been a well-oiled machine, even when it comes to tanking. Back in 1996, the San Antonio franchise was in dire straits. David Robinson, the team’s star for the decade preceding, was entering the twilight of his career, and the front office brass knew they needed a big jolt entering the new millennium.
So the Spurs decided to lose… a lot. Robinson appeared in just six games that year, and the Spurs ended with the third worst record in the league. They lucked into the No. 1 pick by way of the lottery, and were afforded the opportunity to select the draft’s biggest prize — a senior forward out of Wake Forest.
Duncan would go on to lead the Spurs to 19 consecutive 50+ win seasons (San Antonio won 37 games in the lockout year, which would equate to a 60-win year in a full season). The Big Fundamental is a five-time NBA Champion, two-time regular season MVP, three-time Finals MVP, and will likely go down as the greatest power forward in NBA history.
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