Despite the San Antonio Spurs falling two play-in wins short of the postseason, coach Gregg Popovich's extensive tree of former players and assistants is still alive and well across staffs in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
In total, six of the eight remaining head coaches in the playoffs have a Spurs connection, though only five are directly connected to Popovich:
Spurs coaching staff
Ime Udoka - head coach, Boston Celtics
Mike Budenholzer - head coach, Milwaukee Bucks
Monty Williams - head coach, Phoenix Suns
Taylor Jenkins - head coach, Memphis Grizzlies
Steve Kerr - head coach, Golden State Warriors
Doc Rivers - head coach, Philadelphia 76ers
Ime Udoka (left) Jayson Tatum (middle) and Gregg Popovich
Ime Udoka and Mike Budenholzer are both longtime former Spurs assistants, but are currently in the midst of a tight 2-1 series that the Bucks lead headed into Monday's Game 4 in Milwaukee.
Udoka, 44, played 160 of his 316 career NBA games with the Spurs over three seasons before his last year in the league in 2011. He then joined Popovich's staff in 2012, where he served as an assistant until 2019.
After one season apiece as an assistant with 76ers and the Nets, the Celtics hired Udoka in June 2021 as the franchise's newest head coach.
Gregg Popovich (left) and Taylor Jenkins
Budenholzer, 52, might be the most decorated of Popovich's former disciples. Before winning a championship as coach of the Bucks last season, "Coach Bud" spent 17 years as an assistant with the Spurs from 1996-2013. He won four rings with the team during that time.
Budenholzer won the NBA's Coach of the Year during his second season with the Atlanta Hawks in 2015. He followed this up in 2019 with the Bucks, winning the honor for the second time in his career.
Ime Udoka (left) and Mike Budenholzer
In the Western Conference, the Spur connection continues with Steve Kerr and Taylor Jenkins. Kerr's Warriors currently hold a 2-1 lead over Jenkins' Grizzlies headed into Monday's Game 4 in Oakland.
Kerr, 56, won two of his five rings as a player with the Spurs in 1999 and 2003 before retiring. He was hired to become head coach of the Golden State Warriors in May 2014 and the rest is history, as Kerr has three rings and an NBA Coach of the Year award since then.
Gregg Popovich (left) and Monty Williams
Jenkins, 37, was hired as an intern with the Spurs during the 2007-08 season. From 2008 to 2013, he worked as an assistant and head coach for the San Antonio's D-League affiliate team, the Austin Toros.
Jenkins was hired by Memphis in June 2019 after serving as an assistant under Budenholzer for five seasons with Atlanta. He helped guide the 56-26 Grizzlies to the No. 2 seed in the playoffs this season.
The Phoenix Suns have had a franchise revolution under the coaching expertise of former Spurs player and staffer, Monty Williams, who was named the team's head coach in May 2019. The Suns are currently in a 2-2 series deadlock with the Dallas Mavericks headed into Tuesday's Game 5 in Phoenix.
Taylor Jenkins (far left) and Mike Budenholzer (second left)
Williams, 50, played and served on San Antonio's staff much like Udoka did. The 24th overall pick in 1994 out of Notre Dame played two seasons with the Knicks before joining the Spurs for the first two seasons of Popovich's coaching tenure. Williams then earned a ring as a coaching staff intern with the team after San Antonio won the 2005 title.
Last season, he led the Suns to the NBA Finals, but lost to Budenholzer's Bucks in six games. Instead of falling into a slump, Williams led the Suns to a franchise-best 64-18 record this season, helping the team earn the No. 1 overall seed in the 2022 playoffs.
There's also a small Spurs connection with Doc Rivers, who played his final two NBA seasons for the franchise from 1994 to 1996.
The way things are playing out, we could continue to see the Spurs have a major influence on success for the remaining playoff teams headed into the NBA Finals.