Gregg Popovich shares why he cannot allow his Spurs to tank
The San Antonio Spurs head into Sunday’s season finale at 34-47, but with a spot in the play-in game assured. Had the team been less aggressive down the stretch, they likely could have lost a few extra games and made a run at a top five pick in the NBA Draft, but coach Gregg Popovich refused to do that.
Popovich was asked why he resisted the urge to tank, and he said he did not see how he could ask players to not try their hardest. However, he also suggested that putting young players in that environment could negatively impact their growth and development, and prevent them from learning valuable lessons.
Pop, with a lengthy expository answer to the question of why come the Spurs went for the play-in instead of turning in a full-steam-ahead tank job: pic.twitter.com/6hSGHOjUuO
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“I think the lessons to be learned are very important as their careers advance,” Popovich said. “You hope that in the long run, that value they gain from that will help them compete an an even higher level later. I understand the opposite, I just can’t do it.”
While nobody really wants to tank, it is easy to see the temptation. Getting a higher draft pick can certainly lead to a better outcome later. On the other hand, Popovich has a good point that the lessons learned from a more competitive environment could prove valuable later on.
Popovich has sounded off on tanking before with similar reasoning. At the very least, his team will get the experience of a playoff game, and that could mean a lot later on.
Photo: Feb 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on the sideline against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports