Gregg Popovich on Spurs drafting Derrick White: ‘Never even knew he existed in the world. Didn’t know he was on the planet’

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports
No matter who made the call, White has turned out well for San Antonio

Gregg Popovich on Spurs drafting Derrick White: ‘Never even knew he existed in the world. Didn’t know he was on the planet’

No matter who made the call, White has turned out well for San Antonio

Under president-coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs have drafted legendarily well. Manu Ginobili (No. 57 in 1999), Tony Parker (No. 28 in 2001), Kawhi Leonard (No. 15 in 2011) stand out amid a long list of quality selections.

But maybe don’t give Popovich too much credit for Derrick White, the No. 29 pick in the 2017 draft.

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Popovich, via ESPN:

I never even saw him, never even knew he existed in the world. Didn’t know he was on the planet.

I’m busy. 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. They’ve got to find the talent, right? I’ve got to teach back-door, and I’ve got to find the talent?

Popovich is obviously joking about being too busy eating and drinking (though wine is actually quite important to Popovich). But not scouting White at all? I wonder how serious that is.

Though Popovich has the title and salary of a team president, he has empowered general manager R.C. Buford. It’s to the point people forget about Popovich when explaining why president-coaches “always” fail.

A big drawback of someone holding the dual title: It’s too much work for one person. However involved Popovich is in roster-building, he and Buford have clearly struck a productive balance.

White ascended to starting point guard after Dejounte Murray‘s season-ending injury and played well this season. White is a high-level defensive guard, and he showed his athleticism in Game 1 against the Nuggets:

San Antonio did well to identify and draft White, who began his college career at Division-II Colorado–Colorado Springs then transferred to Colorado for his senior year. White has also developed impressively while with the Spurs. At minimum, Popovich had a hand in that development.

But if drafting White were completely up to Buford, still give Popovich some credit for trusting the general manager. Popovich is in charge. Knowing how to delegate is part of good leadership.

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