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Could Gregg Popovich become the Russell Westbrook Whisperer?

Could Gregg Popovich become the Russell Westbrook Whisperer?

Patiently, calmly, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich sits on the sidelines, only getting riled up at the worst of calls. He gives reporters pause. His team has fallen out of serious contention over the past years. Following a falling out with Kawhi Leonard, many fans warmed to the idea of DeMar DeRozan, whose personality matches the franchise’s culture perfectly. The stoic, quiet superstar has been a trademark of the franchise since the drafting of Tim Duncan.

Maybe the quiet star is no longer what Gregg Popovich needs in San Antonio. While Duncan’s stint with the team was historic, it may be time to bring more excitement to the Spurs. DeMar DeRozan has worked well so far, but maybe they ought to see if Popovich could become the Russell Westbrook Whisperer.

Gregg Popovich currently coaches the Spurs to a 24-17 record, with eight wins in their last 10 games. While it seems like the Spurs have found their star guard, it’s hard not to imagine what a Spurs team with Westbrook could accomplish. If the Spurs found a way to pair the Thunder’s talented, but troubled guard with one of the best basketball minds in history, it would change the trajectory of Westbrook’s career from stat sheet seeker to a player who could potentially win multiple titles.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder

Playing under Popovich would require Westbrook to play smarter than he ever has before. Gambles in the passing lane would be replaced by stalwart, disciplined defense. There would be no more chucking up poor shots with ample time on the shot clock. His three point shot would need a massive face lift in order for the Spurs’ system to remain efficient. Shooting 24 percent from beyond the arc does not impress anyone in San Antonio.

Russell Westbrook would improve more than just his shooting percentage under the tutelage of Popovich. His shot and passing decisions would meet their full potential. He must pass the ball while not projecting it’s path so obviously to the defense. He’s quick enough to create space in nearly any matchup, so he needs to utilize the space in order to cut down on out turnovers. Smart basketball wins in San Antonio, and if Westbrook learned to play more under control, they would have elite floor spacing with the perfect guard to cut through the openings.

And while Westbrook has averaged over 10 assists for the past couple of seasons, he turns the ball over 4.8 times per game. The Spurs need to increase the speed to accommodate his skill set, but he must show patience in order to not force the issue offensively.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Billy Donovan, Thunder


The the floor spacing they provide would open up more lanes for his drives and allow him to find the open man more easily. The Thunder shoot right around 32 percent from three, but the Spurs lead the league in shooting with a season average of 40 percent.

Essentially, everything that gives coaches headaches about Westbrook could potentially be solved, and that’s a scary equation for any team in the West. Although San Antonio does not possess the same lure as the biggest markets in the NBA, it does have a proven talented group of coaches, trainers, and management that has put together title contenders for nearly two decades.