Championship favorite Nets taking pages from Spurs' success

Patty Mills, Sean Marks
Patty Mills, Sean Marks / Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

Their championship days might be behind the San Antonio Spurs for a while, but their widespread influence continues to extend throughout their NBA. The Brooklyn Nets were a Kevin Durant toenail away from an appearance in the NBA Finals last season and are widely considered favorites to get it done this time around. As some recent reports show, they're using a lot of the Spurs' successful playbook to get there.

Personnel-wise, it's easy to see the Nets have modeled themselves after the Spurs over the last few years. Their GM, Sean Marks, played for San Antonio and served as an assistant coach with them from 2013-16. Player development coach Tiago Splitter played a valuable on the 2014 team that won an NBA title. Another champion with the Spurs (2007), Jacque Vaughn, is an assistant coach under Steve Nash in Brooklyn.

Beyond that, the acquisition of long-time Spur Patty Mills shows Brooklyn is now looking to further establish a culture of character around the team, much as San Antonio has done for the last 25+ years.

"One of the reasons the team inked Mills was because he can become a "culture guy," said Spurs reporter Jeff Garcia, quoting Sean Marks. Mills is as high-class of a person as you can find in the NBA, and he's frequently pointed to Coach Popovich as one of the reasons.

He expanded on that during Brooklyn's Media Day. "[I learned] that there's a life out there that's much bigger than basketball," said Mills. "There wasn't one day that went by that that we didn't learn one fact about the world and what was going on in the world."

Now entering his 13th NBA season at age 33, Mills should be a perfect fit in Brooklyn off the court in helping build a pleasant culture. On the court, he's likely to play a decent role in what should be a title run if everything falls into place.

The mimicking of the famous Spurs' culture certainly isn't limited to one Eastern Conference team, as former Spurs player and assistant coach Ime Udoka is proving in Boston.

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While Spurs fans obviously want the team's culture to get back to equating to a winning culture, that's likely going to take some patience. Still, it's nice to see their influence continue to go beyond basketball -- even during a rebuilding phase.