Though it hasn’t been long since the San Antonio Spurs traded for center Jakob Poeltl, his outlook on the sport has been changed by his experiences since.
There are few better teams for a young big man to get traded to than the San Antonio Spurs. Considering their rich history led by two Top 20 players of all-time in Tim Duncan and David Robinson, this organization has done a masterful job of putting their centers into a position to succeed. For second-year Spur Jakob Poeltl, that impact has been tremendous for a budding career.
In a Q&A held on the NBA’s social media accounts as part of the NBA Together initiative, Poeltl discussed his Austrian roots, European influences in the NBA and what it’s been like to don silver and black over the last two seasons. Poeltl first answered a question about playing with seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and learning from the greatest power forward of all-time in Tim.
Later, he addressed what it’s been like for him to play under head coach Gregg Popovich. While Pop has a reputation for being hard on his players and pushing them more so than the average coach, he’s also well-known as being a likable peer and a remarkable individual.
“Tim and LaMarcus have helped me a lot. Working with Tim on a daily basis—him giving me little tips and tricks in games, going against LA in practice on a daily basis has really helped me improve my game, so I’m trying to take advantage of that opportunity as best as possible.
“Over the past two years, I’ve already learned a lot from [Popovich] about the mental side of basketball and how to approach the game. He’s really taught me a lot in that aspect. Besides that, he’s a really good guy; a guy that you can just talk to or joke around with. So I really enjoy having him as my head coach.”
Having such a strong base of leaders for young players to lean on is what makes the future bright in the River City despite this team facing the NBA Draft lottery for the first time since drafting Duncan. These aren’t just figureheads, they’re mentors who are going to instill basketball and life values in the young men who come into that locker room each season.
Poeltl loves playing for Gregg Popovich and San Antonio Spurs
A: ? Jakob Poeltl pic.twitter.com/ovXiryKGuK
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2020
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Being that Poeltl was only in the league for two brief seasons before becoming a Spur, he reached the team at a time when he was still able to be imprinted with team values. He came from an admirable organization in Toronto but now, he’s around teammates and coaches with a championship pedigree that have gone through the process of a season countless times.
Learning from Duncan and Aldridge is what’s going to help Poeltl grow the most as a basketball player. However, learning from Popovich is going to have more of an influence on who Poeltl becomes as an individual. Now that he’s on the brink of restricted free agency, Jakob’s future in the silver and black is in question. If he garners big money from a rivaling team in the offseason, San Antonio may not be able to match it.
However, he’s become somewhat of a fan favorite with high-upside as a plus defender and menace on the glass. The most likely scenario is that the Spurs match any deal and bring him back to anchor the team’s defense for years to come.
After all, Poeltl is the best rim defender they’ve had since Duncan himself.