In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Jay Hernandez joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss individual and team NBA player development.
Jay Hernandez completed his second season as Assistant Coach and Director of Player Development with the Hornets. Hernandez started his tenure in the summer of 2018 as Head Coach for the Hornets in the Las Vegas Summer League. From there he was responsible for 4 players including All NBA Selection, Kemba Walker. He managed defensive and offensive scouts as well as working on in game execution of ATO’s. He was also selected to be a Head Coach for the 2019 NBA Combine. Prior to Charlotte, Hernandez spent four seasons (2014-18) as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic. He served as a bench assistant when Borrego was the Interim Head Coach for the last 30 games of the 2014-15 season.
Joining the Magic in 2014-15 as an assistant coach/player development, Hernandez worked for Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles and Frank Vogel. Hernandez moved up to assistant coach under Frank Vogel in his 3rd season and became a bench assistant in his 4th season. He was responsible for game scouting, on-court skill development and running pre-draft workouts.
Prior to joining the Magic, he specialized in player development and ran Pro Hoops Inc., which trained players and teams looking to improve their on-court performance that he established in 2004. From 2011-14, Hernandez oversaw pre-draft training that prepared 14 NBA Draft selections, including seven lottery picks.
Hernandez played college basketball, one season at the University of New Hampshire (1996-97) and three seasons at Hofstra University (1998-2001) under Jay Wright. As team captain for Hofstra, Hernandez led the team to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2000 and 2001. After his collegiate years, Hernandez went on to play professionally for three seasons in Puerto Rico.
“I think it’s very important for coaches . . to get uncomfortable and figure out other areas that they might not be very good at, in order to continue to grow.”
“Development now is looking at the totality of the game and how that translates over from the individual aspect where guys are getting better with their skills, they’re getting better with their decision making and in their ability to carry that over to the games.”
“We do track things throughout the season to make sure that what we have in our system is being done and we’re grading those things as well.”
“We’re talking to the players not only about the effort required for some of these things, we’re also talking about the technique or we’re talking about the ‘whens’ and the ‘whys’ . . and making sure we keep talking to the players throughout the season.”
“We’re also tracking some of the subjective stuff from a standpoint of leadership; things like being on time and communication skills. So, again, player development encompasses the all-around player but also the person.”
“A lot is figuring out what motivates them, what their goals are and talking to them specifically about what they think they need to work on.”
“One thing that coach does a great job of is allowing us, even in warm-ups, to have stations to be able to break down certain things we may be seeing. Maybe there’s something that’s been trending negatively or something . . that we liked that has been working really well for us.”
“Finishing is something we need to continue to get better at because we do a really good job getting into the paint . . so we have to do a better job not only finishing but decision making when we get in there.”
“I always use the term, ‘Make it ugly.’ Basically, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I think when guys get to the higher levels, they want to look like they’re perfect at all times. The workout we design is for these guys to be able to think and drill so that they can think and play better.”
“We want them to make mistakes going really hard because, if they’re not making mistakes, either we’re not challenging them or they’re not working hard enough and neither one is acceptable.”
“I think confidence is built in the way training is designed.”
“For us to be able to visually see it and for them to be able to verbally tell me what they’re seeing is very, very important. So, it is that collaboration back and forth that is necessary.”
“A lot of it comes down to what we’re doing on the court and what we’re trying to get accomplished . . if you’re taking a three where it’s a step-back, contested three, that’s not going to necessarily help us. So, it’s understanding the value within the analytics.”
“The happiest player is going to be the most successful player . . so, for me, a lot of it comes down to them understanding ‘no false success.’ We’re going to be here and we’re going to have fun through the challenges. So, a lot of it is going to be changing the mindset of what fun is . . and fun is in the challenge.”
“If you’re not being challenged, then you’re not going to get better . . it’s definitely a collaboration . . the happiness comes from what kind of success you’re having on the court.”
“A lot of young guys, they don’t have a routine so they’re looking at us to develop something for them.”
“I think where our staff does a really good job is making sure that there are components of the routine that are always consistent and then there are components of the routine that may adjust to something that we watched on film that day or something that they struggled with the game before.”
“I think when you have a program where it’s not just talk, where you can point to examples of guys doing the right thing when opportunity came, they seized it, it’s motivating and it’ll keep guys on the right track.”
“I think it’s really important for them to see all the other examples of players who, over the course of time, had to continue to fight and continue to work for what they wanted.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Scouting Reports
4:00 – Player Development Focus
6:00 – Assessment of Player Development
9:00 – Player-Led Development
11:00 – Organized Player-Development Workouts
14:00 – Team-Focused Situations
17:00 – Ideal Situation for Player Development
20:00 – Building Comfort and Confidence
22:30 – Connect Skills to the Game
26:30 – Decision-Making
30:00 – Helping Players get Better
33:00 – Pregame Individual Workout
36:00 – Meeting with his Players
39:00 – Progress for Bench Players
43:00 – Advocating for Players
45:30 – Conflicts
48:30 – Different Types of Drills
53:00 – Trial and Error
55:00 – Conclusion
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