After coming off an NBA Finals appearance last year, the San Antonio Spurs have experienced some setbacks that have many doubting the team’s ability to reach the mountain top once again. But they are closer than most think and if they continue their steady pace, Gregg Popovich deserves the credit in the form of the NBA Coach of the Year Award.
In his 18th season at the helm of the Spurs, his resume speaks for itself: four NBA championships, one of five coaches in NBA history with four or more championships, over 900 career wins, 15 seasons with 50 or more wins, longest tenured coach with same team in all majors sports, and career winning percentage of .683. His two previous Coach of the Year awards in the 2002-03 season and the 2011-12 season make him one of only five coaches that have ever won the award twice.
Despite his impressive collection of statistics, it is his consistent ability to extract the maximum potential out of every single player on his roster for success. If the Spurs are able to maintain their hold on the second-place spot in the Western Conference or even catch the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first spot, Popovich is the hands-down leader for the NBA’s best coach.
With more than 15 different lineups this season, Popovich has been able to lead the Spurs to a league best 22-8 road record. Despite missing the Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard for most of February, the Spurs still posted a 9-3 record. The Spurs are second in the league in assists, rank in the top 10 in points per game and top ten in defensive points allowed per game.
Popovich has been and will be the driving force for San Antonio. He is the only coach in the league that has the ability to lose impact players and use role players to win games. The respect he commands from his team is a major factor that allows trust to flow in a reciprocal fashion. Regardless of who wins the award this season, Pop is undeniably a legend that can never be overlooked.