Popovich On Leonard, Mills, Team Goals

About to enter his 17th season with the Spurs, Gregg Popovich has already amassed four NBA championships and two "Coach of the Year" awards, with his last and only losing season having occurred during 1996-97 as a first-year head coach. After falling just two wins short of an NBA Finals berth in June, Popovich appears determined to regroup for next season. Here are a few noteworthy tidbits from his Q&A with fans on Spurs.com:   

Regarding Kawhi Leonard and his future in the NBA: 

"I think he’s going to be a star. And as time goes on, he’ll be the face of the Spurs I think. At both ends of the court, he is really a special player. And what makes me be so confident about him is that he wants it so badly. He wants to be a good player, I mean a great player. He comes early, he stays late, and he’s coachable, he’s just like a sponge. When you consider he’s only had one year of college and no training camp yet, you can see that he’s going to be something else."

When asked about Patty Mills' role on the Spurs after his performance in the Olympics: 

"Well, I didn’t need to see his Olympic performance to know what he can bring, it’s just that he came to us so late last year it was really hard to incorporate him into what we were doing. But he’s an aggressive, fiery, offensive player. He can shoot the three and really score, and that’s what he looks to do when he comes in the game. So he’ll be a game-changer in that sense, at the offensive end. And defensively he’s kind of like a pest—he’s not very big but he’s really a game. He’s got great courage and he gets into people, trying to really bother them and get them off their game. So his competitiveness and offensive skills are what we’re looking forward to mostly."

On defense as a priority for upcoming training camp and how he plans to adjust against teams that have remarkably improved: 

"You know (defense is) always a priority with us, but you know we’re never going to reach the level that we were at five, six years ago defensively. It’s just impossible to do that for a variety of reasons. But it still has to be an emphasis, we can get better and we have to if we want to compete with these guys that, as you said, added so many players to their team…What other teams do is not in our control, so we'll worry about, as I said, incorporating Kawhi into the program more since he wasn’t here very long. Boris, Patty Mills, look for improvement in Danny Green, work our big guys. Tiago and DeJuan Blair I think are going to have very good seasons for us. So we’ll concentrate on that and what we need to do as a group, and we’ll see how we stack up."

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