Building a team to contend for a title for a five to seven year window is a daunting task for any organization. But imagine what is required to build a team that can maintain that excellence for over a decade and a half.
With the San Antonio Spurs' 122-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday, the team just helped to pull back the curtain and show us what the blueprint looks like. The victory gave the team their 15th 50-win season.
Now the easy thing to say is their success is due to the original “Big Three” of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan can make any coaching staff and organization look like geniuses, but that would simplify the achievement.
The job done by head coach Gregg Popovich and his staff along with General Manager RC Buford has been undervalued.
Consistency is the biggest component to this run. Buford and Popovich have worked together for twelve years and helped to streamline the process of which players to acquire.
With the team consistently drafting towards the end of first round, they are rarely getting an opportunity to draft a franchise player. Their choices tend to be players who can compliment the nucleus of the Spurs. They tend to focus on players who are able to check their egos at the door. With Popovich’s tendency to rest the core players, they may need to be able to help carry the load for a few games and then go back to a supporting role.
Popovich also has some freedoms that are not enjoyed by other coaches. He has always been a big picture person. He is willing to sit his star players in the fourth quarter or even not play them at all no matter who the opponent is for a regular or a post season game.
This philosophy has been a key to the Spurs’ run of success. Unlike other teams that may grind their players to get the higher playoff seed, the Spurs have enough confidence to believe they can win on or off their home court. That belief has helped to elongate the careers of Ginobili, Parker and Duncan along with providing more consistency.
The buy in to the coaching philosophy and the system has also helped. When new players come in, they see that the star players are being the coached the same way that they are. They quickly see that no one is above the team. Anyone who thinks anything else doesn’t stick around to long.