Mike Prada of SB Nation, gave out the second edition of his annual NBA general manager rankings.
San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford again ranks near the top in his profession. He ranks third on Prada’s list this year, trailing former Spurs assistant general manager Sam Presti of the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2 and Miami Heat’s Pat Riley for the top spot.
Buford was ranked seventh last year.
Here’s what he have to say about Buford’s work.
STYLE: Meticulous planner.
THE GOOD: Almost everything, all the way down to making sure his team was as good as it was this past year.
THE BAD: Definitely overpaid Richard Jefferson, in a surprisingly non-Spurs move that has jacked their payroll up beyond what it should be.
BOTTOM LINE: Buford’s still one of the best GMs in the league, but he has slipped a tiny bit, and a couple others in the league have caught up.
The Spurs organization has been fortunate to have Buford and Gregg Popovich around over the years. Their work has helped orchestrate four titles over a nine-season period that ranks as one of the most memorable periods of success in modern NBA history.
Sure, the Spurs were lucky when they hit the jackpot and picked up David Robinson and Tim Duncan in the lottery. But Buford and Popovich have surrounded those franchise players with key contributors who helped bring home multiple championships. Moves like picking Tony Parker late in the first round, Manu Ginobili late in the second round and signing Bruce Bowen to a free-agent contract helped them get there.
They’ve made the right moves a lot more regularly than they have whiffed.
But the challenge for Buford and Popovich now will be to retool that core into a team that can contend for championships again without access in the draft to the very best talent like Robinson and Duncan to help in the turnaround.
It’s an extremely difficult, if not impossible, mission to accomplish.