If it wasn't obvious yet, these 2020 NBA Playoffs have shown how much of an elite head coach the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra is.
To be able to take a team this far despite incorporating new components such as first-year Heat player Jimmy Butler and instilling confidence in the team's postseason rookies has been a testament to Spoelstra's utter mastery of the game's Xs and Os, and his way of managing different personalities on the team.
It shouldn't be a surprise then that Spoelstra has earned his player's praise.
“I think the thing that fascinates me is how he can put all of these different pieces together and make the team function,” said Dragic, who is now on his 6th season in Miami.
“One of the best qualities that he has is he’s upfront with you. He’s going to tell you, ‘Hey, this is your role. You’re going to do this, this and this.’
“Basically there’s no confusion with the players. You know what your role is on the team. When you’re setting those roles on the team like that, then you can play free.”
Third-year player Bam Adebayo said he appreciated the way Spoelstra has helped to hone his game.
“He wants people to improve. I feel like that’s the biggest thing about Spo,” Adebayo, a first-time All-Star this season, said.
“Having a coach like that that wants his players to be unique and wants them to be what they want to be or what they think they can be, and just morphing them into being that. That’s a big thing for me.”
Spoelstra had always been known for taking a squad made up of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to back-to-back championships.
But after those trophies and four overall trips to the NBA Finals, Spoelstra wasn't able to find similar success once the Heat Big 3 disintegrated.
With Miami's run in these playoffs, though, Spoelstra, who has a chance to climb to solo 8th on the all-time list of playoff wins by a head coach, has a shot at returning to the big stage.
And, compared with working with a superstar squad, coaching a relatively ragtag crew has underscored both his leadership and his vast experience in championship basketball.
The Heat lead the Boston Celtics 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“He’s really an underrated coach,” Dragic said.
“One of the best coaches in this league. People should give him more credit for that.”