- In a profile of the life of advanced scouts in the NBA, one scout revealed Gregg Popovich has a deep playbook.
- The scout said Popovich sometimes call plays that he hasn’t called in almost ten years.
- Popovich also has some interesting gestures to call plays.
Gregg Popovich is one of the NBA’s masters of Xs and Os, perhaps because his catalog runs deeper than anybody else.
The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss took a deep dive into the life of NBA advanced scouting, in which scouts revealed Popovich is one of the hardest coaches to scout.
Scouts often sit near the sidelines, examining the plays and gestures coaches make and what the team does afterward. Those notes get written up for teams, who then implement them into the game plan for future meetings.
According to one scout, Popovich can sometimes reach deep into his bag of tricks. Via Strauss:
“That’s not so much the case with Popovich, whose play-calling archives are on a Library of Alexandria level. ‘Pop might call a play and I’ll go through my notes and see that the last time he called it was eight years ago,’ says a West scout. ‘But it will be the same term, same hand signal, same play.’ The notoriously clandestine Popovich would likely never reveal its contents, but his playbook must contain thousands of well-archived designs, accumulated through over two decades of Spurs stewardship.”
According to Strauss, while some coaches are known for being secretive or deceptive with their play-calling Popovich is instead pretty flamboyant. One play-call even has a … suggestive gesture.
“Popovich is also known for having used one of the more ridiculous looking hand signals for a play called ‘Shake.’ When signaling the call, Pop looked like he was pantomiming an onanistic act. Then again, that’s up for interpretation. ‘You could say he was shaking up some dice with that hand,’ an East scout mused.”
Following the Kawhi Leonard trade, Manu Ginobili retirement, and Tony Parker departure, this year’s Spurs will look different from past iterations. That may force Popovich to tweak his bottomless playbook.