SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs selected guard Josh Primo of Alabama with the No. 12 pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft, adding a 6-foot-5 guard as they rebuild through youth.
Primo averaged 8.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in his lone season with the Crimson Tide. The 18-year-old was born in Toronto and played high school in West Virginia for one season before returning to complete his prep career in Canada.
Primo impressed the Spurs and other teams at the NBA combine in June with his outside shooting and playmaking abilities. Still, the selection caught him off guard.
“I don’t know if I was ready for that,” Primo said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be that high, but I’m glad it’s with the Spurs. I’ve always wanted to be a Spur. I told my agent when I first got into this process, that’s where I want to be; and it ended up working out that way. So, it’s great.”
The Spurs have failed to reach the playoffs the past two seasons after matching a league record with 22 straight postseasons while winning five NBA titles. That success resulted in San Antonio owning only five lottery picks, the least of any team since the draft lottery was created in 1985.
The Spurs continued a recent trend of selecting who they believe is the best player available rather than drafting for a specific need.
San Antonio is adding Primo to an already deep set of wings after selecting guards Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker and Tre Jones, and forwards Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell in the previous five seasons.
The Spurs also selected Joe Wieskamp of Iowa with the 41st pick. The 6-foot-6 small forward averaged 14.8 points last season while shooting 46% on 3-pointers.
Murray, White and Johnson spent most of their rookie season developing their game with the Spurs’ G League affiliate in Austin and Primo could face a similar path.
“We’re going to have to learn each other and see where I’m at,” Primo said. “I think it’s going to be a decision made not right now, but probably closer to when the season starts and during the season. It’s going to be a great opportunity either way, and I’m just going to keep working whether I’m in the G League or playing on the NBA floor.”
At 18 years, 217 days, Primo is the youngest draft pick in franchise history. And the Spurs could have the youngest roster in the league depending on how their offseason unfolds.
Veterans DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, Gorgui Dieng and Trey Lyles are unrestricted free agents and Keita Bates-Diop and Quinndary Weatherspoon are restricted free agents. Lyles is not returning, but the status of the team’s remaining free agents is uncertain.