Tim Duncan explained it best during Ginobili's jersey retirement. "Emanuel Ginobili? Ok Pop, whatever" Most of the time 99% of basketball fans (and players) don't recognize names that the Spurs select in the Draft.
Yet, time and time again they make the right pick. As much as everybody tries to emulate the Spurs organizational principles, not many succeed. Every time they point out character is no.1, basketball fit is no.2, and teams don't rank it that way.
We try to bring guys in we think will fit as far as understanding the culture. People that pretty much got a good chance or are already have gotten over themselves.
It's worth mentioning that most of the time the Spurs are drafting outside the lottery. You are most likely getting a role player in that part of the draft, so fit, and culture make sense as priorities. Still, the Buford&Popovich tandem has a stellar record in finding hidden gems.
On that note, Pop always points out that it is R.C. Buford who makes all the picks. Pop has a voice in all major decisions within the organization but is always mindful of removing the mystique around him and share it with his colleagues.
Tony Parker was so bad at his workout that Pop said no to him. It was R.C. that found him and believed in him, so he convinced Pop to give the young guy from France a second chance, but it had to be Pop's way. "We brought in a couple of guys, bigger, stronger than Tony and he did a hell of a job."
The latest of finds in San Antonio is Derrick White. OVerlooked by most colleges, the Spurs picked him 29th in the 2017 draft as a long-term developmental project. With Tony leaving and Murray suffering a season-ending injury, Murray was bumped up, and he stepped up. But when did Pop say "OK, let's get this kid."
That's a tough one cause I don't think I ever said that. Never saw him, never knew he existed in the world. Didn't know he was on the planet.
So the next time you hear Spurs drafted some kid you never even heard of, remember that kid's name. It is quite likely he will be a good player.
Quotes from this story via ESPN.