- The San Antonio Spurs have unearthed another hidden gem in Derrick White, a second-year guard who had a breakout season for the Spurs this year.
- In an interview with ESPN, Popovich said there was no moment when he decided to draft White because he "never even saw him, never even knew he existed in the world" prior to the draft.
- Popovich joked that he’s too busy ordering wine at restaurants to scout players, saying that if he’s coaching them, he shouldn’t have to find them, too.
No team in the NBA is better at unearthing hidden gems than the San Antonio Spurs.
The latest example is second-year guard Derrick White, the 29th pick in the 2017 draft. With a hole on the team following the offseason departure of Tony Parker, retirement of Manu Ginobili, and injury to point guard Dejounte Murray, White stepped up and had a productive season for the Spurs, averaging just shy of 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game while becoming a good defender.
Jim Cowsert/APPrior to the Spurs’ first playoff game on Saturday — a win over the second-seeded Denver Nuggets — Popovich spoke to ESPN’s Michelle Beadle about the team’s ability to find productive players all over the draft.
Popovich told Beadle that he had no idea who White was before the Spurs drafted him.
"I never even saw him, never even knew he existed in the world," Popovich said. "Didn’t know he was on the planet."
Popovich then joked that he was too busy to scout White, saying he was ordering wine at restaurants. He also joked that his job as a coach means he shouldn’t have to scout players, too.
"Michelle, I’m busy," he said. "I’ve got other stuff to do. I can’t watch this guy. I don’t know who these guys are. I’m at dinner. I’m ordering wine. I’m relaxing.
"[Management’s] gotta find the talent, right? I gotta teach back-door and find the talent?"
When Beadle said that it’s Spurs’ GM R.C. Buford’s job to find the players, Popovich was quick to drop the act and praise his colleague: "And he does it very well."
Watch the humorous exchange below:
Sure enough, White had an excellent Game 1 for the Spurs, scoring 16 points with 3 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Spurs look as different as they ever have under Popovich. Gone are Tim Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili — in their stead are DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, two isolation-focused scorers, surrounded by young, developing roles players. It was still enough for the Spurs to win 48 games and make the playoffs for a 22nd year in a row.
If Popovich is drinking wine instead of scouting, the system is working.
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