10. Bruce Bowen (2001-09)
I told you this list would alternate between relying on statistics sometimes and sentiment other times. On paper, not much really jumps out about Bruce Bowen to the casual fan. But to the city of San Antonio and its team's success, he was everything.
"The simple fact is the Spurs don’t win NBA Championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007 without Bruce Bowen," said Coach Popovich when Bowen's jersey retirement was announced. "Statistics are meaningless when talking about his importance to this franchise."
Day in and day out for eight seasons, Bowen was tasked with guarding the best perimeter players in the league from Kobe Bryant to LeBron James and everyone in between. From 2002-2009, he missed just three of a possible 574 games, becoming the ultimate iron man in a position vital to the Spurs' success.
Despite never being known for his offense, Bowen developed one of the deadliest 3-point shots in Spurs history, especially from the corners. in the Spurs' title-winning 2003 season, he led the league with a 44.1% mark, and that was just one of five times he shot over 40% over a season in San Antonio.
“His success is proof that hard work and determination do, in fact, pay off," said Popovich. You won't hear an argument from me.
Highlight: Bruce Bowen's 2008 NBA All-Defensive First Team selection comes at age 36 and is the fifth such selection he receives. He also makes three All-Defensive Second Teams.
9. Kawhi Leonard (2011-18)
Continuing the theme of hard work paying off, the meteoric rise of Kawhi Leonard was certainly special. Coming out of San Diego State as just a 25% shooter from three, his development of a killer jump shot was just one of the ways he expanded his game in San Antonio's developmental system.
As a 15th pick, few could've predicted just how much of an all-around game Leonard possessed somewhere deep down. Although he was in the shadow of bigger stars in his first couple of years in San Antonio, Leonard became an NBA Finals MVP by the end of his third season and a perennial All-Star beginning in his fifth.
All drama surrounding his controversial exit aside, the Spurs would be one title short of having a ring for their collective thumb without him.
Highlight: After scoring 18 total points in Games 1 and 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals, Kawhi blows up for 23.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game over the last three to win his first of two NBA Finals MVPs.