The Washington Wizards are coming off of their best season in 9 years as they finished the season with a of 44-38 along with making it to the conference semifinals losing to the Indiana Pacers. With making the playoffs for the first time in over seven seasons the future is bright for the young Wizards lead by star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. While it was nice seeing the Wizards make the playoffs and win in the first round the talent level of this team leaves Wizards fans wanting more. The Wizards are coming to a crossroad in their franchise as they can go in two directions, they can go in the direction of the Golden State Warriors who have a young special backcourt that can be the most exciting in basketball but still don’t have that look of a NBA championship team or they can go in the direction of the Western Conference Champions San Antonio Spurs who are in their second NBA championship in consecutive year. The obvious choice would be the Spurs however it isn’t as simple as just wanting to be like arguably the greatest franchise of this decade it will take dedication and smart subtle moves to be like the San Antonio Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs are the model of consistency in the NBA, they just finished their 2013-2014 season with an outstanding record of 62-20 which was their 15th consecutive season of 50 plus wins. The last time they did not win 50 games in a season was the 1998-1999 when they only won 37 games due to the strike shorten season. In that strike shorten season they still had an unbelievable winning percentage of .740 which if they would have played the full 82 game regular season schedule the Spurs would have won 62 games. The Spurs since they moved to the NBA from the ABA in the 1977 season have only missed the playoffs four times, I’ll say that again FOUR TIMES. While the Spurs have clearly been one of the greatest regular season NBA teams since they came into the league they had no NBA championship rings that is until Gregg Popovich was hired in 1996.
The San Antonio Spurs has the current longest tenure coach in the NBA with Gregg Popovich. Popovich was hired by the team halfway through the 1996-1997 season and right away the struggles started for the coach as they finished the season 17-47 under his control however Popovich would never have another losing season again and in just two short years he would take the worst team in the NBA to the 1999 NBA Champions. Popovich would go on to win three more championships with the Spurs along with a win percentage of .686 and would win three NBA coach of the year awards. The consistency that Popovich has brought to the Spurs has not been matched by any other head coach in NBA history. Even as unlikely of a franchise to have one coach for 17 years it is almost as unlikely as having the same star they drafted with the first overall pick in 1997 still leading the team into the 2014 NBA finals.
The last season the Spurs missed the playoffs was 1996-1997 when the team finished 20-62 and usually when a team misses the playoffs it is considered a failure and a thing that should be avoided however the greatest thing to ever happen to the Spurs came from that awful season, Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan since stepping on the floor in 1997 has won basketball games and has done it so well that he is a four time NBA champion, two time league MVP, 14 time All-star, and three time NBA Finals MVP. The combination of star and coach is unmatched by any other franchise in the NBA’s luxurious history however it isn’t two people that make a great franchise like the Spurs are its every player in the organization and the San Antonio Spurs have consistently made moves that seem to always to work in the end.
The Spurs have the most ethnical diverse roster in all of basketball as they currently have five players who were born overseas including their star point guard, Tony Parker, and the most consistent bench player, Manu Ginobili, for the last eight season. The Spurs have turned a 28th overall pick, Parker, and a 57th overall pick, Ginobili, into one of the most effective and consistent backcourts of the last decade. With the combination of Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan the Spurs have not needed to make trades or big time free agency signings like other teams to get to where they are now which makes what they do even more special in that they prove that if you have a consistent coach combined with homegrown talent a team can be in the championship hunt every single season like the San Antonio Spurs.
The Wizards have a rare opportunity to follow in the blueprint of the Spurs to hopefully take them to NBA championship contention every year however it starts with resigning Coach Randy Wittman for the foreseeable future. In signing Wittman it will allow him to grow as an NBA coach like Gregg Popovich grew into one of the greatest coaches in the NBA’s history. Along with keeping Wittman will help him grow as a coach, it will also allow the young Wizards, John Wall and Bradley Beal, to grow into the most consistent backcourt in the NBA like Parker and Ginobili. However it will not be the big sexy free agency signings or trades (Kevin Love) that will take the Wizards in the direction of the Spurs it will be the smart draft picks and the efficient free agent signings, like the signing of Drew Godden, along with the patience of fans and front office personnel that will leave that Wizards in championship contention for hopefully as for the next 17 years like the greatest franchise in the NBA for the last 20 years, the consistent San Antonio Spurs.