Gregg Popovich is by far the best coach in the NBA and should win a record-breaking fourth Coach of the Year award.
Just like LeBron James should win MVP every season, Gregg Popovich should win Coach of the Year every season. Pop has gotten the Spurs into the playoffs 20 consecutive seasons. He has also coached more 60-win seasons than most other franchises have in total. Pop motivates his players to play stifling defense, and inspires them to play team-oriented basketball like no other coach can. He also has developed a system which seems to thrive regardless of which players are in it. Further, Pop is a master at tapping into the potential of foreign unknown players and getting the most out of their talents. He develops them in his system and turns them into perennial All-Stars. Classic examples are French native Tony Parker (28th pick in the draft) and Argentinian native Manu Ginobili (57th pick in the draft). Pop has a history of fitting marginal players into his system so they can maximize their strengths. Pop also somehow convinces players to sacrifice to buy into his team-first style. Players such as Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge left lucrative deals on the table to come to San Antonio and play for coach Pop.
Despite losing Tim Duncan, the Spurs’ anchor for the last two decades, Pop still coaches one of the best teams in the league. All his players are always disciplined and respectful and they have a good relationship with him. When coach Pop sat Tim Duncan in the final seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals and Ray Allen hit the game-winning three-point shot, Duncan did not criticize his coach but instead he expressed respect for his judgement. More recently, coach Pop sat his star player Kawhi Leonard just one-and-a-half minutes into Game 3 of this year’s playoffs due to his lack of energy. Kawhi willingly took a seat and returned a few minutes later, acknowledging the time out Pop put him in. Of course, a team needs selfless players who would support their coach through decisions like this, but the mentality of accepting these decisions starts behind the scenes in the locker room.
Coach Popovich’s greatest skill may be his ability to regulate his player’s minutes like a computer algorithm. He rests his star players and yet still wins regular season and playoff games. His players are never overplayed and rarely suffer from injuries because of this. His players are also fresh going into the playoffs and are always poised to make a deep postseason run.
Just because I disagree with Coach Pop’s politics — he went on an anti-Trump tirade after the election, and recently called America’s treatment of African Americans a “national sin”— it doesn’t mean I can’t have the utmost respect for him. I hope Pop wins Coach of the Year for yet another years’ worth of unmatched talent at the coaching position.
By Efraim Andrew Wakschlag
Efraim Andrew Wakschlag is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, and currently lives in Chicago. He attended the Yeshiva of Greater Washington and graduated from Yeshiva University in 2014. He is a prolific writer on the NBA and authored “10 Squared: An Unconventional Analysis on the NBA” when he was in Yeshiva University.