Spurs take Euro prospect Luka Samanic, versatile forward Keldon Johnson in draft
SAN ANTONIO – The Spurs added depth on the interior and wing with a pair of first round selections in the 2019 NBA Draft.
It was the first time since 1987 that San Antonio had two first round selections.
The Spurs selected Luka Samanic with the No. 19 pick.
Samanic is a 6-11 versatile forward from Croatia who can stretch the floor and has deep shooting range.
He is also known as a solid ball-handler for his size and can also score inside. Samanic said the Spurs were the first team he worked out for and interviewed with ahead of the draft.
"We played a lot of one-on-one and three-on-three, and a lot of shooting too," Samanic said. "They care about how you are off the court so you have to be the whole package."
Scouts said some of his deficiencies are his passing and playmaking ability.
Samanic is only 19 years old and was under contract with Petrol Olimpija of the Slovenian League and Adriatic League.
Here’s a look at some of Luka Samanic’s highlights from the 2019 #NBA combine, where he competed hard, made plays + earned his stripes playing against American competition in front of scouts + GMs. The #Spurs have selected him with the 19th overall pick. pic.twitter.com/uUr4VEKDUe— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) June 21, 2019
Samanic is just the fourth player born in Croatia to be drafted in NBA history.
"Playing for Coach Pop, it's a blessing to be able to learn from such a person. They have a winning mentality. They share the ball and play hard defense," Samanic said. "They've won championships and they have many important players from Europe. I'm just happy and excited.
Samanic told the San Antonio media that he plans to play with the Spurs next season and not stay in Europe, and also participate in NBA Summer League.
The Spurs have not officially announced whether he will be on the roster next season.
Ten picks later, the Spurs selected Kentucky small forward Keldon Johnson with the No. 29 pick, the selection acquired from Toronto in the Kawhi Leonard trade.
Johnson is 6-6 and 19 years old as well. He averaged 13.5 points, nearly six rebounds and shot 38 percent from 3-point range in his only season at Kentucky.
Media reports indicated Johnson was set to go to Cleveland with the No. 26 selection, but the pick was later changed.
"(It) worked out for me. I think God does everything for a reason. I fell to the Spurs and I'm blessed and excited about the opportunity." Johnson said. "I can't wait to come in and learn from the coaches and the organization.
Johnson is considered to be a tough-minded forward who can defend multiple positions.
"I think I bring a lot of energy, hardworking," said Johnson. "I think I can get up and down and run. I think I fit in pretty well."
The Spurs selected Quinndary Weatherspoon with the No. 49 pick in the second round. The 6-4 guard from Mississippi State was an All-First Team SEC performer last season.
Copyright 2019 by KSAT - All rights reserved.