Watson Looks to Channel Inner-Popovich Coaching Suns

By Cuyler Meade

Phoenix Suns interim head coach Earl Watson began his coaching career in 2014 as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs D-League affiliate in Austin.

He may have learned a little something while he was there.

“If you watch San Antonio play, [Spurs head coach Gregg] Popovich will pick games where he sits his starters,” Watson told Sports360AZ.com in a phone interview on Friday. “The media will go crazy, but what Pop is really doing is building confidence in his bench so that in the playoffs, when they need to, they can go on a 10-0 run and then get the starters back in there.”

Modeling your coaching style after Popovich, easily the most successful active coach in the NBA and one of the league’s all-time greats, is easier said than done. But Watson believes he’s in the perfect position to do just that with a Suns’ team that’s missing key starters.

“Right now we’re looking to build positive habits,” Watson said. “Inspirational play. Motivation. So when you see our team play you can say they fight every night, they give their heart, and you can fall in love with that. Once we get our guys back that are the heart of our offense that will mean the guys on the bench will have confidence.”

Watson is 0-3 since taking over for Jeff Hornacek who was fired on February 1st. The Suns host the Oklahoma City Monday night.