How the Spurs consistently remain a playoff team even while rebuilding

The Spurs have been arguably the most successful team since Greg Popovich became the head coach in 1996. They have won 5 titles including 99’(Duncan), 03’(Duncan), 05’(Duncan), 07’(Parker) and 14’(Leonard). The only seasons the Spurs have had under 45 wins under Pop was 1996 when he took over mid-season(17-47) and the 1998 season in which they finished 37-13 and only played 50 games due to the lockout. They have made the playoffs 22 years in a row.

In Pops first offseason, they landed the #1 overall pick and gave the Wake Forest stud Tim Duncan the keys to the team. The Next year the team improved from 17-47 to 56-26. Pop implemented his system with just one addition in the offseason. 2 years later in 1999, Pop took Emanuel Ginóbili with the 57th overall pick. Not known to us as “Manu” yet, nobody predicted him to become one of the biggest pieces to their dynasty. In 2001, the dynasty was complete as they drafted the French point guard by the name of Tony Parker with the 28th overall pick. We all know what he became and the Spurs trio plus Popovich went on to win many NBA Finals.

For the first 5 years after the 2007 Finals, many began to believe that the Spurs 4 ring dynasty was coming to an end. Most teams with older players that are declining would trade them away to capitalize on their value, however Pop knew that they were just one piece away from being a contender again. In 2011, Pop took the risk on the 15th overall pick from San Diego State, Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs traded George Hill for him and even got back a solid role player in Davis Bertans on draft night. Kawhi flourished in Pops system bringing the spurs to 2 Finals appearances and winning the Finals MVP in 2014. However, in between the 7 years of their last NBA Finals appearance in 2007, they did not have a season where they won less than 50 games. Being able to rebuild with limited assets is simply remarkable.

I believe we see this happening again with today’s Spurs. Dealing Kawhi, and pairing up Derozan with Aldridge gave them 2 All-Star caliber players to remain a steady playoff team. Even this year they took the 2 seed Nuggets to 7 games in the first round. But what I want to point out most importantly is that the Spurs are slowly developing one of the better young cores in the league. In the 2016 Draft, they drafted Washington point guard Dejounte Murray with the 29th overall pick. Murray has great defensive potential and seems like the perfect point guard to fit into the future of Pops system. Unfortunately he missed this year due to an ACL injury but is definitely someone to watch out for in the future.

The next year, the Spurs were dealt the same pick and with the 29th overall pick they drafted Derrick White. He averaged 18.1 ppg and shot 39% from three at Colorado. He showed great potential especially in the playoffs when he broke out and put up 36pts 5rebs 5ast with 3 steals and a block all we’ll shooting 15-for-21 in game 3 against the Nuggets. White said that he felt the game 2 loss was on him for allowing Jamaal Murray to score most of his 21 points in the 4th Quarter when White was guarding him. He wanted to bounce back for his team which he definitely did. I am excited to see what he can do in the future.

In the 2018 Draft, the Spurs took Lonnie Walker IV with the 18th overall pick out of Miami. Walker thrives when he has the ball in his hands and is one of the most skilled players when it comes to creating his own shot. He plays quickly all we’ll staying under control. With open space Walker has a versatile package where he can take the dribble pull up or the step back 3. This was proven in the summer league when he went off for 32 the other night.

This years draft I think the spurs got 2 steals and their second round pick might just make it 3. With pick 19 they took Luka Šamanić. He shot the 3 ball at 34% overseas and is crafty around the rim and with the ball as he possesses multiple ways to finish. Šamanić could end up being the perfect modern day stretch 4. Watch this to see Šamanić show off his handles a bit. (https://twitter.com/spurs )With the 29th pick the Spurs took Keldon Johnson from Kentucky. He has had great games this summer including 29pt and 19pt outings. Johnson has great defensive potential and a smooth stroke. He shoots the ball off catch and shoot very well and has soft touch around the rim. The modern day 3 and D player. The 2019 Draft is looking even better for the Spurs because the play out of their second round pick, Quinndary Weatherspoon(49th), has been very surprising this Summer. As a senior at Mississippi State, he shot 39.6% from 3 and scored at least 20 points in 16 games for the Bulldogs. He has a had a great Summer and the Spurs just recently signed him to a contract so look out for him in the future.

Oh yeah…guess what, they are still a playoff team. The question is can they keep up with all the dominance in the West this year? I think it is possible especially with a Derozan trade in the future. Having Dejounte Murray back from his ACL injury this year and hopefully getting a full season out of young stud Lonnie Walker IV, Pop might just work his magic and lead them to a 23rd straight playoff birth.

Do you guys think their young core is slept on?

Do you think drafting is mostly Pop or the front office? Both?

What are you most excited to see this year out of this team and what direction do you think they will go?

Curious to see your thoughts.

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