Since the inception of the NBA Draft Lottery, San Antonio Spurs have only drafted in the top-10 a total of three times. Take a moment and let that sink in.
Although those three times earned them three guys turned out to be pretty good picks, David Robinson (1987), Sean Elliot (1989) and this Tim Duncan fella (1997).
The Spurs are proof of the value of consistency in the front office and on the court and how it can lead to an unprecedented success being enjoyed by the team.
The front office duo of Greg Popovich and RC Buford has been running the ship together since 1994 and Buford was given the title of GM in 2002.
Coach Pop and RC meshed well with the existing team leadership of “The Admiral” and Sean Elliot with Avery Johnson from the start. They got the core players on the same page with themselves and from there they started bringing in players that fit in with what they wanted to do.
The core player’s belief in the system allowed them to show the next generation of core players what was expected of them as team leaders. Robinson, Johnson and Elliot were able to show Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili what they need to do to carry on the Spurs tradition of excellence.
By having the core players setting the example of what was expected, they were able to set the example for the role players and consequences for not going along with the program.
An early example of this came to light when Popovich grew tired of Dennis Rodman’s antics traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Will Perdue, who was valuable when the Spurs got their first title in 1999.
A recent example of Popovich’s desire to put the team before the individual occurred with Stephen Jackson. Although Jackson was never a problem in the media, his desire to put his individual needs before the team lead to his dismissal right before the playoffs.
The message was clear, that if you are not putting the team first, you will be shown the door.
The success enjoyed by the Spurs has been another attractive quality to help lure free agents to the Alamo City. With the Spurs being a consistent contender, good players, on struggling or team’s that couldn’t get over the hump, were willing to take a lesser role for a chance to put that championship ring on their finger.
This allowed the Spurs to replace players who didn’t want to put the team first or who had worked their way to big contracts with other teams. The Spurs were able to reload instead of rebuild while their later first round draft picks spent time overseas maturing and working on their games.
Having Coach Pop and Buford running the show for over a decade and half has resulted in a unprecedented 16 season streak of making the playoffs and 50 wins season (with the exception of strike shortened seasons) being as common as breathing.
So Spurs fans, how would rate RC and Coach Pop’s performance at the helm of the Spurs’ ship? Would you rather have someone else?