In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Toronto Raptors lead assistant coach Adrian Griffin joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss developing a coaching philosophy.
Adrian Griffin is currently an assistant coach for the reigning champion Toronto Raptors. In total he has been an assistant coach with 5 different organizations. By all accounts he is one of the top assistant coaches in the NBA and on his path to becoming a future head coach, Coach Griffin thanks for sharing the game with us. Griffin played in the NBA as a guard and small forward from 1999 to 2008.
Shortly after his playing career ended, he was hired by Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles as an assistant, where he would work for the next two seasons. In 2010, he became an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls under Tom Thibodeau, where he coached for five years.
Along with working in the NBA, in 2014, Griffin accepted the offer to work with the USA coaching staff that helped win the Gold Medal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. This team featured many NBA stars including: Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving.
In 2015, he was hired by the Orlando Magic to be their top assistant coach. In 2016, Adrian Griffin was hired by the Oklahoma City Thunder to be their lead assistant coach under head coach Billy Donovan. In 2018, Adrian Griffin was hired by the Toronto Raptors to be the lead assistant coach under first-year head coach Nick Nurse. Griffin was an instrumental piece of the Raptors 2019 championship run, where the Toronto defeated the Golden State Warriors in 6 games of the 2019 NBA Finals, yielding Griffin his first championship ring.
“One of my beliefs that I try to live by is that better people make better players.”
“Adversity is the opportunity to show your character, show what you’re made of.”
“He [Scott Skiles] said, ‘Why don’t you join my staff?’ And I do believe it was a reflection of not just me but of all the values that my father taught me growing up because he was my role model . . he taught me some important values and principles to live by.”
“I did not get drafted out of college . . I spent three years in the CBA . . it was there where I learned sacrifice and hard work. My coach Tyler Jones would work with me every day for an hour before practice and an hour after practice.”
“He [Tyler Jones] gave himself so unselfishly not just to me, but to the other players that wanted to work. He was always available, always accessible.”
“Those four words, ‘I believe in you,’ are so powerful . . When they [players] truly believe that you are invested in their goals and their dreams . . you can build a relationship with a player that becomes . . a lifelong type of relationship and commitment.”
[On interviewing for a coaching job in the NBA] “You’re going to have to go in there and articulate who you are as a coach and as a person. So, when you’re developing your coaching philosophy, in essence, you’re really coming up with values that say, ‘This is who I am.’”
“Your coaching philosophy can consist of many things but I think it depends on the emphasis that you want to take as a coach . . but you want to be open as well because no one knows everything.”
“When I started to really think about my coaching philosophy and where to start, I began to think about my playing career and think about the coaches who got the best out of me and why, and how they made me feel.”
“I’m not a yeller. I would rather hold you accountable with our values . . let your values be the bad guy. When you come in with a set of values and you hold players accountable to those, all you have to do is go back and say, ‘Okay, this is what we agreed on.’”
“That’s one of the lessons I pass on to my players . . if you’re not playing . . control what you can control. Be faithful over showing up every day with a great attitude. Be faithful over your conditioning and your preparation.”
“Tom Thibodeau used to say, ‘Your roles are different, but the work is the same.’ Everyone has different roles and you have to embrace them and accept them but the work should be the same for everyone and that’s to show up with the right mindset of putting the team first.”
“To me, that’s the accountability part . . am I doing everything that I possibly can to help my team win? . . as a coach, am I being the change that I want to see?”
“The formula for success is ability plus coachability equals success . . and so leaving your ego at the door, to me, is a very powerful value for any organization.”
“As coaches, when we’re holding them to a higher standard, we’re making withdrawals from them, we’re asking them to give us something, so it’s important that we give back to them . . refill their cup.”
“Your values are important but what’s more important is putting action behind those values. So, when you’re creating those values, it’s important to add an action statement to those values.”
“It’s important that you do take that time to sit down with each player to get to know them, get to know their motivations . . So you want to ask them, ‘What do you want to get out of this? What are your goals?’ . . that’s going to allow you to be open so that you’re able to share with them your goals and the goals for the team.”
“That’s what this is all about when you’re talking about your coaching philosophy and your values, it’s about you continuing to strive as a coach, how you become better and better at your craft . . the players can’t get better unless the coaches are getting better.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Why are you Coaching?
7:00 – His Favorite Coach
16:30 – Shaping his Philosophy
20:00 – Importance of Coaching Philosophy
22:30 – Focusing on Soft Skills
26:30 – Reflection of his Core Values
37:00 – Values that his Team will Embody
39:30 – Challenges to his Philosophy
42:30 – Participants Reasons for Playing
48:00 – Removing his Ego
52:30 – Changing
59:00 – Adapting other Coaches Ideas
1:06:00 – Conclusion
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