Gregg Popovich
Carlos Avila Gonzalez, Staff Photographer / The Chronicle

Gregg Popovich is a legend and is arguably the greatest coach that ever lived. When you’ve coached as long and as well as he has, you’re going to train a lot of the future coaches in the league. After researching coaches now that were once under Coach Popovich’s wing or the Spurs organization, I was actually surprised at how many names are relevant in today’s NBA. Without further ado, let’s look at the list and rank them.

#10 James Borrego

After James Borrego is where the list falls off a cliff in terms of relevancy. James Borrego was an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff from 2015-2018. He is now with the Charlotte Hornets where he holds a 52-66 record. He holds an all-time record 62-86 if we include the 30 games before he was with the Spurs.

#9 Monty Williams

Monty Williams was a player under Gregg Popovich’s first two seasons as head coach. He has then coached a plethora of games as a head coach himself. He has an all-time record of 186-241 (.436). While his record is surely isn’t the best, he has gone to the playoffs twice and has the Suns excited for the future with his coaching style.

#8 Alvin Gentry

This one is a bit of a stretch in terms of Gregg Popovich’s assistants because they were assistants together on Larry Brown’s staff in the 1989-1990 season. Still, I’m going to count it because one has obviously has had way more success than the other. Alvin Gentry has bounced around from teams. He started as the Pistons head coach to the Clippers. Gentry became an assistant again for the Suns before eventually taking over the Head coach job. He was the head coach there for 5 seasons. Gentry became an assistant again before taking over his current job in New Orleans as the head coach there, where he resides currently. He has an all-time 491-576 (.460) record in his coaching career.

#7 Brett Brown

Some of y’all might think this is premature given his all-time record but Brett Brown deserves to be ahead of the other 3 coaches. I’m willing to overlook his record during their “Trust The Process” years. Especially since the 76ers exploded on the scene with success. Brett Brown was Gregg Popovich’s assistant for 11 years combining two separate occasions. He is now the head coach of the 76ers since 2013. His record since the 2018 season is 126-74. obviously better than the other 3 all-time records. If we include the 4 years of tanking his record is substantially worse. His record would be 201-327. But you need to have talent to win games, and he just didn’t have that.

#6 Quin Snyder

Quin Snyder wasn’t Gregg Popovich’s assistant per se, but he did work with Popovich given that he coached their G-League affiliate in the Austin Spurs. Obviously, with two-way contracts and signings to the team, Quin Snyder has worked with Gregg Popovich. Quin Snyder was the Head coach of the Austin Spurs from 2007-2010, was an assistant for a few years and then went to be the head coach of the Utah Jazz in 2014. He has then coached the Jazz since then and has had plenty of success there. Snyder was barely below .500 in his first two years and then has been over .500 since and made the playoffs. His all-time record is 248-195 (.560).

#5 Mike D’Antoni

Top 5 is where the talent is. You might be surprised that D’Antoni is lower than you think, especially with some names on here. But after some explanation, I hope you see it my way, the correct way that is. Mike D’Antoni was never Spurs assistant, but he was a scout for the Spurs during the 1999-2000 season. He was given specific instructions on who to look for and that was helpful to the Spurs being a dynasty. One could say that helped his career in terms of finding talent to sign in his coaching career but who knows. His all-time record is 651-510 (.561) and has had success in the playoffs. D’Antoni often made the Conference semi-finals and Conference finals. He has never made it to the NBA finals though. D’Antoni has two Coach of the Year awards and currently coaches the great team of the Houston Rockets that has James Harden.

#4 Mike Budenholzer

Mike Budenholzer has been one of Spurs’ longest-standing assistants. He was an assistant from 1996-2013. You often saw implements of the Spurs offense under Budenholzer’s schemes. He has been the Atlanta Hawks Head Coach for 5 years and then took over the Bucks in 2018. Budenholzer has an all-time record of 303-224 (.575). He also has two Coach of the Year awards in only 7 years of coaching. Budenholzer is poised to win another Coach of the Year with how well Giannis and the Bucks have been playing this year.

#3 Mike Brown

Mike Brown was an assistant for the Spurs from 2000-2003. He hasn’t had much success in his career other than of late and his NBA finals appearance in 2007…against the Spurs. However, that’s better than most of the people on this list could say, so he does get credit for that. Brown only has one Coach of the Year award, however, I have him over Budenholzer because of his finals appearance AND he was an assistant on the Warriors when they won the 2017 and 2018 finals. He also coached the 2017 Warriors in the playoffs for 11 games while Steve Kerr was out. Brown coached them to an 11-0 record in the playoffs. His all-time coaching record is better than Budenholzer as well with a 347-216 record (.616). He’d be a fool to leave after this year because the Warriors will be great again next year.

#2 Doc Rivers

This one is a bit of stretch but it should be noted that Doc Rivers played under the Spurs when Popovich was an assistant on the Spurs. Despite that, Doc Rivers still has taken some of Gregg Popovich with him. He has been a stellar coach on his own and has won a championship by himself with the Celtics. Doc also has won a Coach of the Year award in 2000. His championship as head coach is what puts him over Mike Brown in my rankings. He has a lower record than Mike Brown does with 918-669 (.575), but he has coached way more games than he has. So the room for error is to be expected.

#1 Steve Kerr

Was there any doubt? Although Steve Kerr wasn’t an assistant to Gregg Popovich, he was a player for the Spurs for 4 seasons. He has learned the Spurs offense and you see schemes of it in the Warriors offense. There is a lot of passing in the Warriors offense and it looks identical to the Spurs offense but with just some more 3 point shooting. He has a Coach of the Year award and 3 titles, so obviously there’s no question he should be at the top of the list. Kerr has also gone to the finals for 5 straight years. He is by far the best coaching product that has ever got any interaction with Gregg Popovich…yet that is.

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