Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Hubie Brown ran his Summer League team

The NBA Summer League is in full swing. I've always believed that its real value lies in providing a forum for evaluating D-League and European League players. It's a great place for clubs that are looking for a quality 11th or 12th man to round out their roster or add a certain specialty (e.g., three-point shooter, shot-blocker, etc.).

Teams can also find a diamond in the rough. When I was with the Hawks, Udonis Haslem was undrafted out of Florida, but he played his way onto Miami roster. Ditto for Louis Amundson and Justin Williams with the Kings.

Of course, the Summer League also gives the recent draft picks a chance to play under NBA rules and provides the first opportunity for them to work with (and adjust to the style of) their new coaches.

Maybe more than finding out who can play, the Summer League gives coaches a feel for who can't play.

Many NBA head coaches let their assistants take the lead in the Summer League. Assistants such as Dan Majerle (PHX), Elston Turner (HOU), Keith Smart (GSW), Patrick Ewing (ORL), and Keith Askins (MIA) will be coaching their teams' Summer League squad in Vegas.

But NBA coaching great Hubie Brown had a different approach while with Memphis.

He put his 2003 Summer League team through NBA-type practices -- that Hubie actively planned for and coached at. It was similar to a spring football practice or summer training camp where he'd do some real instruction, spending time teaching his new players.

I don't think it was a coincidence that Hubie won 2004 NBA Coach of the Year honors.