Rating the San Antonio Spurs Coaching Staff for 2020-21
The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most reliable franchises in sports for over two decades.
Every year, they had relevant superstars, they had a recognizable face on the bench, and they were in the playoffs.
Most years, they’d win a series, and in a good chunk of them, they had a shot at running the table.
That wasn’t so much the case in recent seasons, while the 2019-20 season brought the end, with this current rendition of the Spurs finally missing out on the NBA playoffs.
So much has changed for the Spurs over the years, but the main man on their coaching staff has not. As the 2020-21 NBA season approaches, let’s break down the Spurs coaching staff to learn what to expect going forward.
Gregg Popovich – Head Coach
Popovich isn’t really a coach that needs an introduction. An institution in the NBA, “Coach Pop” is known for his gruff demeanor with the media but is otherwise a total player’s coach.
Popovich’s chameleon-like personality wins over his players, but his brilliant mind is what sets him apart from all of the other great coaches in league history.
Known for his team ball-sharing, efficiency, and defense over the course of his illustrious career, Popovich has carved out a litany of title contenders in San Antonio, with the Spurs reeling in five championships under his guidance.
In all, Popovich created such a rich history of winning that the 2019-20 season produced their first playoff miss in an insane 22 seasons.
The world was a very different place the last time the Spurs missed the playoffs. ? pic.twitter.com/mrb3GozUo8— theScore (@theScore) August 14, 2020
Popovich has always gotten the best out of his teams, with the Spurs routinely owning the league’s top record and finding a way to make playoff runs. He’s still going strong at age 71, and with him on a chair by the court, San Antonio can never be written off.
San Antonio Spurs’ Assistant Coaches
Gregg Popovich stands alone when looking at the Spurs 2020-21 coaching staff. He’s been with this franchise for longer than any of his coaching colleagues have coached anywhere in the NBA, and his success is unparalleled by any active head coach in The Association.
That said, even “Pop” can’t do it all on his own. Especially as he ages, Popovich has called on his staff more than ever, and before long, it’s only understandable that he’ll pass the torch to one of his assistants.
For now, they help him try to will the Spurs back to the playoffs. Let’s take a closer look at his helpers on the bench for 2020-21.
Viewed as a possible replacement for whenever “Pop” decides to retire, the fiery Hammon is one of the few women in the NBA coaching ranks after spending the last six seasons in San Antonio.
Hammon was rewarded for her basketball brilliance with a jump to the pros, but she’s also proved to be deserving with excellent work with the San Antonio Summer League team (they won the title).
NBA legend Pau Gasol said some words on female coaches in the NBA and showered Hammon with genuine praise.
It’s unclear if Hammon’s excellent coaching will get her the gig in San Antonio, but it’s beyond obvious she has the talent, smarts, and drive to eventually man the bench for some NBA team.
While Hammon probably gets the most attention for being a minority of sorts in a profession dominated by men, Hardy also deserves some respect for his high basketball IQ.
Hardy also served as the Spurs’ Summer League coach in the past, and he’s had a role with the organization at some level since 2010 and even helped with Team USA in 2019.
A rising assistant at just 32, Hardy is already gaining momentum as a potential head coaching candidate in the league.
The 59-year old Engelland probably takes a backseat to both Hammon and Hardy due to their meteoric rise in the league, but he has way more experience.
Engelland has been by Popovich’s side since 2005, and he’s had a hand in NBA coaching since 1999. With stops in Detroit and Denver before San Antonio – not to mention seven years as a player – he has the championship-level experience to bring to the table.
Johnson is another rising assistant, and he’s being brought in to replace the departing Tim Duncan.
Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but he’s a younger option and proved his worth over the last three years with San Antonio’s D-League affiliate.
With Johnson’s help, the Austin Spurs won the G-League title in 2018. He also had a stop at the University of Portland as an assistant coach and spent his college playing career at Stanford
There’s no getting around how stacked the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff. Obviously, “Pop” is a living legend, and Engelland is a useful and familiar assistant he has been able to trust for over a decade.
Add in young hotshots like Hammon and Hardy, and this coaching staff is as eclectic and as versatile as they come.
It hasn’t prevented the Spurs from trending in a direction they don’t want to, but if anything, San Antonio’s brush with mediocrity could drive this staff to work even harder.
It’s forced Popovich to adapt to a changing league, and it will be interesting to see how he, his coaches, and the Spurs as a team respond.
Overall, the Spurs remain in fantastic hands. It’s still worth questioning if they have the players in place to make a run at anything more than a bottom playoff seed, of course.
For more 2020-21 NBA coaching staff analysis, check out the following.