‘I’ve watched him do it before’ | Pistons’ Monty Williams says Spurs rebuild is in good hands with Popovich

“He’s laid the groundwork and foundation,” Williams said of the Spurs head coach.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs may have rookie Victor Wembanyama in uniform but that did not signal the end of the franchise’s rebuild.

The team is still getting its players the necessary NBA experience, adjusting to Wembanyama’s presence on the court, and learning the nuances of the league’s level of play.

In other words, the rebuild is not over but Pistons’ coach Monty Williams knows first-hand that this process the Spurs are undergoing is in good hands with Gregg Popovich at the helm.

“I’ve watched him do it before, he’s laid the groundwork and foundation,” he said.

This season, the Spurs have their youngest roster ever since Popovich became coach in 1996, with an average age of 23.5. The roster this season includes 14-of-18 players 24 years old or younger and enters the season as the youngest team in the NBA by age.

A roster that young will need the experience and guidance Popovich can bring. Not to mention a Hall of Fame resume to prove he has what it takes to bring the roster up to speed and bring the franchise out of the rebuild.

“He’s arguably one of the best coaches that has ever coached and he’s developing a young team. I watch them play and you see the same growing pains,” Williams said.

There are signs the team is starting to click on the court.

In the last three games, the team has won the third period over their opponents. A big step in the development considering the third period spelled doom for the team.

In addition, the Spurs have been more competitive in games, and have recorded fewer turnovers than their opponent in four straight games.

The Spurs’ learning process may be starting to turn in the right direction.

“You also learn as you watch those guys and you see the struggles they have and the way they’ve lost games, you realize there’s a process to this whole thing,” said Williams.

“You hope that the players you are coaching have the character to understand that it’s a process, it’s not instantaneous,” Popovich said. “You hope that yourself and your coaches understand that you have to have the patience and know that it’s a teaching situation.”

Williams, who was a part of Popovich’s coaching staff as an intern in 2005, is going through the same process in Detriot. The Pistons own the worst record in the league and the franchise is seemingly in its rebuild with Cade Cunningham as their focal point. 

Much like the Spurs with Wembanyama as its focal point moving forward, both the Pistons and Spurs will be looking ahead at how to improve the roster.

“Both teams are developing, trying to get players to understand how to play. As the future goes, we’ll see which guys stick, which guys don’t, that sort of thing,” Popovich said.

It has been a playoff drought (five seasons), and below .500 records for Popovich and the Spurs but the future is very bright.

Wembanyama is proving he is the generational many pegged him to be and the roster is packed with young talent to surround him with such as Devin Vassell.

Better days are ahead for the Spurs and Williams can see what is to come for San Antonio. 

“There’s excitement there,” he said.

X: @KENS5, @JeffGSpursKENS5

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