Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but an NBA franchise with its roots laid in the San Antonio Spurs’ system. In case you missed it, the Orlando Magic hired former Spurs assistant coach Jacques Vaughn as their new head coach. Before that, they hired Rob Hennigan, who spent time in the Spurs front office before following Sam Presti to Oklahoma City. Josh Robbins from the Orlando Sentinel writes the Magic would like to share the small market success the Spurs have had. It starts with Vaughn, who had nothing but high marks for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
“The last five out of six years, I’ve been around a gentleman who just goes by the name of ‘Pop,’” Vaughn said. “I’ve emulated him. I’ve taken notes. I’ve shared an office. He’s been unbelievable to me to allow me to be around his brilliance, and for that, I thank him tremendously.”
Robbins also said he spoke with Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford about how the Spurs have maintained their success. Buford said “you get Tim Duncan and David Robinson and don’t screw it up.” No one can say for sure if Hennigan is going to be a good general manager, though not letting Billy King and Russian Mark Cuban bully him in to a bad Dwight Howard trade is a good step. Same goes for Vaughn, who obviously comes from a great system, but is a relative blank slate when it comes to being a head coach. Still, their backgrounds certainly provide reason for optimism for Magic fans.
It’s easy to look at the Spurs and Thunder’s success and say the Magic are on the right track to building a great team. As Buford pointed out, the Spurs got off on the right foot because they started this Pop/Buford run with two of the best big men in NBA history. The Thunder had three drafts in a row where they hit four home runs (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka) and a double (Eric Maynor). So you need the luck to be able to draft high (and have the right guys drop to you) and do a great job evaluating talent. The Magic need to be able to do that before we dub them the next Spurs or Thunder. They also need to figure out if Dwight Howard is a part of their plan. However, if developing through the draft is part of their plan then maybe it’s a good idea for them to take the Houston’s deal which is a bajillion draft picks and just as many young guys like Jeremy Lamb and Royce White.
No doubt, Spurs fans are pulling for the Magic, perhaps even more so than the Oklahoma City Thunder since they wouldn’t be standing in the way of any potential San Antonio trips to the Finals.