BROOKLYN – The last time the San Antonio Spurs owned a top-10 draft pick was 1997, when they used the first overall pick to select Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.
Twenty-five years and five NBA Championships later, San Antonio is looking to rebuild the franchise into a championship contender by adding to a young, guard-dominant core through the 2022 NBA Draft. The Spurs have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and have bowed out of the last two play-in tournaments in the opening game, so there’s plenty of room for improvement on the roster.
San Antonio enters this year’s draft with four draft picks, marking the team’s largest pool of possible selections since 1988. They open the draft with picks No. 9, No. 20 and No. 25 in the first round. They also hold pick No. 38 in the second round. The ninth overall selection will be the fifth-highest selection the Spurs have ever made in an NBA Draft, behind only Duncan (No. 1, ‘97), David Robinson (No. 1, ‘87), Sean Elliott (No. 3, ‘89) and Alvin Robertson (No. 7, ‘84).
The theme of this year’s draft was simple for the Spurs: embrace the youth movement.
Pick No. 9 - Jeremy Sochan, Baylor Forward
With the ninth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Spurs selected Jeremy Sochan, a 19-year old freshman forward out of Baylor. Sochan stands 6′9, weighs 230 pounds and averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game off the bench in his only season with the Bears. He is considered one of the best defenders in his draft class with a seven-foot wingspan, was named Big XII Sixth Man of the Year and was also selected to the 2021-22 Big XII All-Freshman Team.
Sochan is a Polish-American born in Oklahoma. At just two years old, he moved to the United Kingdom. As he learned the game of basketball, Sochan played all over Europe, including a stint on the Polish National Team. He is the second Baylor freshman ever drafted.
“My heart was racing so fast,” Sochan said. “I’m so happy, and it’s just such a blessing. I have no words.”
PICK NO. 20 - Malaki Branham, Ohio State Guard
With the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Spurs selected another 19-year old - Ohio State guard Malaki Branham. A 6′5, 180 pound combo guard, Branham averaged 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and two assists per game in his only season as a Buckeye. Branham showcased his offensive capabilities throughout the 2021-22 season, shooting 49.8% from the floor and 41.6% from three-point range. Add in his defensive intensity, and Branham earned Big 10 Freshman of the Year honors.
In high school, Branham was a four-star recruit out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.
PICK NO. 25 - Blake Wesley, Notre Dame Guard
With the 25th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft -- their final pick of the first round -- San Antonio selected yet another 19-year old: freshman guard Blake Wesley. In his only season at Notre Dame, Wesley racked up 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game en route to Second Team All-ACC and All-Rookie Team honors. At 6′5, 185 pounds, Wesley’s best attribute might be his speed, which has helped him wreak havoc on opponents on both sides of the ball.
Finally, with the 38th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, San Antonio selected Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler, but reports say that the Spurs traded Chandler to Memphis for a future second round pick and cash.
Stay tuned to KSAT 12 for more exclusive interviews with the brand new Spurs!