The San Antonio Spurs franchise, led by president and head coach Gregg Popovich, has been one of the most successful franchises in the past 25 years, winning five championships off the backs of Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard. As recently as 2017, the Spurs won 61 games, with Leonard taking over the reigns as the Spurs' next dynastic cornerstone. One unfortunate Zaza Pachulia-induced injury later, and the Spurs have now been nothing but mediocre over the past five seasons.
In fact, the Spurs posted their worst winning percentage last season, at .415 (34-48) since 1997, when they drafted Tim Duncan first overall. After trading Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks, the Spurs look even worse this season, and appear to be in pole position for the presumptive 2023 first overall draft pick, Victor Wembanyama. But it's nice to see Gregg Popovich maintaining his sense of humor about the whole situation.
Speaking with reporters during the Spurs' media day, Gregg Popovich had a golden piece of advice for bettors who'd prefer to grow their money.
“I probably shouldn't say this, but I'll say it anyway. Nobody here should go to Vegas with a thought of betting on us to win the championship,” Popovich said in a tongue-in-cheek manner. “The point is to develop this young group to have long NBA careers.”
Pop on Spurs media day: "I probably shouldn't say this, but I'll say it anyway. Nobody here should go to Vegas with a thought of betting on us to win the championship."
— Bruno Passos (@bouncepassos) September 26, 2022
“Nobody here should go to Vegas with the thought of us winning a championship,” Pop says, tongue very firmly planted in cheek. “…The point is to develop this young group to have long NBA careers…” pic.twitter.com/pVjtvL7VJT
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) September 26, 2022
With nothing new left to pursue in his Hall of Fame career, it's awesome to see Popovich embrace the new challenge of molding the potential next generation of Spurs superstars. There are ingredients of a quality roster within the current squad, especially in Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Jakob Poeltl, who could easily slot in as contributors on a contending team. Johnson is improving as a scorer, Vassell has shown flashes of being a quality three-and-D player, while Poeltl, despite the trade rumors, is one of the best rim protectors in the NBA.
However, lottery balls will be all that matters to the Spurs this season, barring an unforeseen breakout from the aforementioned Johnson and Vassell. If there's anyone who knows the importance of having a high draft pick, it's Gregg Popovich, who's always conceded that his career success is always tied to that of Tim Duncan's, the product of the Spurs' tanking in 1996.