Gregg Popovich is a walking Hall of Famer, one of the greatest and most influential basketball minds ever, and arguably the best coach the NBA has ever seen, due to his intangibles and the winning culture he developed over the years.
Popovich is the main reason why the San Antonio Spurs have been a synonym of consistency and hard work ethic for over two decades, and when his time comes, he’s definitely going to go down as one of the best to ever do it, and will have his figure standing in bronze forever.
One of Popovich’s main expertise is the ability he’s had to land diamonds in the rough over the course of his long tenure on board of the Spurs, and today, we’ll let you know about the top 10 moves Popovich has ever made.
Honorable Mention: The G.O.A.T, Matt Bonner
10. Danny Green
Danny Green wasn’t part of the Cleveland Cavaliers rotation and spent most of his time in the development league before becoming one of the best 3&D players in the league.
Popovich gave him a chance in 2010 prior to the league’s lockdown and then recalled him after he played a couple of months overseas. Green may not be the flashiest or more athletic players, but he’s one of the handfuls that’s able to single-handedly stop a fast break and then hit a pull up three.
9. Bruce Bowen
Bruce Bowen is one of the best defensive wings in the history of the game, but it took him a lot of time and a lot of games overseas to establish himself as an NBA player. It would be Popovich who would bring it to the Spurs in 2001 to become one of the most beloved players in franchise history. His perimeter defense was elite and helped the team win 3 Championships.
8. Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson spent 8 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs after signing with the team in 1994, and he’s mostly remembered for his key contributions in the 1998-99 Championship when he knocked down the go-ahead shot with just 47 seconds left in the game to clinch the franchise’s first title ever.
7. LaMarcus Aldridge
Even though LaMarcus Aldridge’s San Antonio Spurs tenure didn’t get off to the best of starts and reports even stated that he wanted out following his debut season in 2015, Popovich was able to find a way to adapt his offensive system to work in favor of Aldridge’s expertise and not otherwise. Aldridge carried the team’s offense without Kawhi Leonard all year long, and he’s going to be the team’s go-to-guy for a very long time.
6. Sean Elliott
Back in 1994, Popovich traded away Bill Curley and a future 2nd round draft pick (that wind up being Charles O’Bannon) to the Pistons in order to get Sean Elliott. Elliott winds up making it to 1 All-Star after being one of the best role players in the league during his Spurs tenure, while Curley would miss 2 seasons with an ankle injury and O’Bannon’s career would never take off.
5. Kawhi Leonard
Even though Kawhi Leonard wind up being arguably the most ungrateful player in the history of the game, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Popovich for taking a huge risk and dealing away George Hill during the 2011 NBA Draft in order to get a young forward whose offensive game was pretty much non-existent.
Now, Leonard is the best two way player in the league, all thanks to Popovich’s guidance.
4. Tony Parker
It’s crazy to think that Tony Parker, one of the most influential point guards of his era, was drafted with the 28th overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, being one of the biggest steals in Draft history.
Parker’s crafty playmaking and clutch scoring in the playoffs made him the ultimate point guard in Spurs history, having a huge role in the last 4 Championships in franchise history.
3. Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili has to be by far the greatest steal in Popovich’s era, being drafted with the 57th overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft despite being considered the best player in Europe. Ginobili made an instant impact on the team and became Popovich’s on-court extension.
He’s one of the toughest scorers and peskiest defenders in Spurs history, a 4 time NBA Champion and the main responsible why the Eurostep is so famous nowadays.
2. David Robinson
David Robinson was taken 1st overall by Popovich in 1987, but even though he was a no-brainer pick, it was Gregg who winds up polishing his game en route to becoming one of the most dominant two-way big men in the history of the game.
Winner of 2 Championships and 1 MVP, the Admiral paved the way for the surging Spurs to become what they are nowadays, that is, alongside Popovich, of course.
1. Tim Duncan
Coming off an injury-plagued season, the Spurs would find the ultimate reward after being entitled to the 1st overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, which they used to draft Mr. Fundamental himself.
Tim Duncan is one of the best big men in the history of the game, a future Hall of Famer and the only player that has been a part (and a major part) of the Spurs 5 Championships. He had an outstanding relationship with Pops and who knows? Perhaps the 3-time Finals MVP will end up as his successor.