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Coach Popovich speaks on developing Spurs' youth before scrimmage against Pacers

Pop called rookie Keldon Johnson a "Mustang" and said he wants to see more aggressiveness from Derrick White and Dejounte Murray.
Credit: NBA

SAN ANTONIO — Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich spoke about his young guns ahead of the team's final scrimmage against the Indiana Pacers.

This is their last tune-up before the eight seeding games that could propel San Antonio into the playoffs and set the record at 23 consecutive years, but Pop has said he's more focused on development in the Orlando bubble. Wearing a familiar shirt, Popovich spoke about the young guys.

He may have even 20-year-old rookie Keldon Johnson a new nickname: The Mustang.

"He's like, do they still have mustangs out west? Do they do that? He's one of those kinda guys," Popovich said. "He's kinda wild and very energetic, very aggressive, takes no prisoners, sticks his nose in, he likes contact, all that sort of thing. All in all he's a very competitive individual, and he's in the process of learning how to play. He's a very young man, and very willing, very teachable, he's got a great personality and he's somebody that we're very high on."

Players have spoken glowingly about Johnson since arriving to the bubble. That competitiveness and aggressiveness has jumped out from the tape, and his defense in particular has Spurs fans excited.

Popovich also touched on a duo of defense-minded players who have played together in the first two scrimmages: Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. He said that in these scrimmages, DeMar DeRozan has bought in and allowed them to take a bigger offensive role and develop.

"I can't anticipate what's going to happen in those games when the real thing starts, but we wanted to take a look at Derrick and Dejounte playing together, and we want them to be more aggressive, we want them to be shooting more quickly, shooting from three, knowing where they're at, just being more aggressive offensively to expand the offense.

"Derrick and Dejounte together" is something fans have been clamoring for since the beginning of the season, and watching them develop some chemistry in the last two scrimmages has been encouraging. They'll likely have their hands full today with Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo, who is back for the Pacers.

Assistant Coach Will Hardy will take the head coaching role for this one. Like the previous two scrimmage losses, the end result in today's exhibition is completely immaterial. Those who care enough to watch will be watching for development.