Why the Spurs are the biggest wildcard ahead of the unpredictable 2024 NBA draft

Victor Wembanyama
Victor Wembanyama / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Only days remain before the pivotal 2024 NBA Draft, and there seems to be increasing uncertainty at the top of the draft board. The Atlanta Hawks currently own the number one overall pick but, according to NBA insider Marc Stein, the San Antonio Spurs have continued to show interest in trading up to number one.

The Spurs have been linked to the Atlanta Hawks for months, first as a potential Dejounte Murray landing spot, then with Trae Young, and now ahead of the NBA Draft. Where there's smoke, there may be fire. The Hawks seem tempted to take big man Donovan Clingan but since he may be available at four, trading down with the Spurs, who own the fourth and eighth picks, makes sense.

Especially since the Hawks would get the player they'd want on a cheaper contract. On the other hand, the Spurs being rumored to be considering moving up suggests that they have an interest in Zaccharie Risasher or Alexandre Sarr, with Risasher making sense given their need for a long-term option at small forward.

Will the San Antonio Spurs trade up to land the number-one overall pick?

The most obvious draft night trade involving the Hawks and Spurs would be a swap of the first pick for the 4th and 8th selections, though this draft isn't nearly as stacked as previous drafts and the prize isn't nearly as valuable. All that is to say that the Spurs would be unlikely to give up two top-8 picks to move up, and the Hawks probably don't have another deal to fall back on.

They could simply take Clingan first, though another option would be the Spurs agreeing to relinquish the 2026 pick swap they have with the Hawks. That may not prove to be all that valuable to Atlanta unless the Spurs are a significantly better team than the Hawks, though they may want control of that selection back since they don't currently own their pick from 2025–2027.

The Spurs also have the 35th pick to offer, as well as Charlotte's 2025 lottery protected first, which would turn into two seconds if it didn't convey. Either might be enough to get a deal done, with both teams getting the player they want.

The Hawks could draft Risasher and the Spurs could do the same with Clingan before the two officially agree to the deal to ensure that there isn't another deal that thwarts their plans. With less than 48 hours until draft night, a deal might not happen until the last minute or even until after the start of the draft.