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Outsider’s Perspective: Secret to success of San Antonio Spurs starts and ends with Gregg Popovich

A sit-down with lead Spurs digital journalist Jeff Garcia.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans and the San Antonio Spurs square off Saturday night in a matchup of division rivals. While the Pelicans continue to nurse injuries and inconsistency, the Spurs maintain their history of overcoming and ignoring both.

For an extended look into the Spurs before tip off we continue our Outsider’s Perspective series by hooking up with Jeff Garcia, the lead digital journalist for both the NBC and Fox affiliates in San Antonio. You can also catch him on the “Locked on Spurs” podcast that he hosts and produces daily. Be sure to follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffGSpursZone and enjoy our latest installment of Outsider’s Perspective.

1. The San Antonio Spurs continue to defy logic with their winning ways despite different players entering and exiting over the years.

Most thought this year would be the year they collapse as Spurs legends and future Hall of Famers Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker both left the franchise. If that wasn’t enough, Kawhi Leonard, who is in the prime of his career, had a seemingly nasty breakup with San Antonio in a way we’re just not used to. Yet somehow they’ve still managed to remain a good basketball team, ranking currently 6th in the loaded Western Conference.

What is the secret?

NBA: All Star Game Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One name — Gregg Popovich. He exercised plenty of patience to start the season. Integrating new players to a system they are unfamiliar with takes time.

He is relying on players who have been with him — Patty Mills, Pau Gasol — to help impart the team system to help the new players in their roles. The players also “check their ego at the door” and fully commit to Popovich’s system. He has the resume to back it up and the respect of the league.

2. Do you think the Spurs’ blueprint is the only way to succeed as a small market franchise?

No. Look at the Kings. Their young team will be a force but they drafted smart and design a system around them. Same for the Bucks and Thunder. Small markets have much success in the NBA.

Cleveland won a title recently while big market teams - Knicks - continue to struggle. It begins with management, ownership and bringing in players who’ll commit.

3. How has DeMar DeRozan fit in after a rough offseason for him?

Quite well. He’s leading the team in scoring and in assists. Knocking down the midrange shots as he has always done and helping the Spurs put up points.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Also, he has meshed well with LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay.

Though he went through a slump recently, he snapped out of it in a loss to the 76ers. Heavy minutes are taking its toll on him but overall he is fitting in well.

4. How have the Spurs made up for the loss of Dejounte Murray? I thought he was on the way to being a star in this league once his jumpshot improved before the injury. Once again the Spurs have found a way to persevere through an obstacle, but how important is he to their future?

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The players are buying in to solid defense. Derrick White has been leading the charge on the perimeter defense, Aldridge has been putting up great defensive numbers and the team is at least trying.

Losing Murray hurt as well as Leonard, Danny Green and Kyle Anderson. They aren’t the defensive monsters they once were, but they are simply doing the best they can.

5. What’s the biggest misconception about the Spurs?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

They are not boring! They are not “vanilla.” From hot shooting from Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes to terrific in-game dunks from DeRozan and Gay, this team can bring the highlights.

6. Outside perspective on the Pelicans?

For me, it’s what could have been. The Pelicans had DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. I wold have loved to have seen that duo grow together. But all-in-all I’d say they are one more superstar away from being a threat in the West.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We know what Davis can do on the floor, but will another star bolster the Pelicans? You bet! Adding Julius Randle was a solid pick up and he is playing great. I say build around them and this team could be something. Of course that is if Davis stays long term and doesn’t get traded or decides to walk.

Game Prediction

If LaMarcus Aldridge is sitting out (as the last injury report says he is questionable) and with DeMar DeRozan and Davis Bertans out, it will be tough for the spurs to get a road win. Away from the AT&T Center has not been kind to the Spurs this season. A close game but Pelicans take this one.

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That was our time with Jeff. Special thanks to him once again for joining us and we hope you enjoyed it. If you have someone you’d like to see us speak with in a future Outsider’s Perspective, be sure to comment below!

Geaux Pels!