In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Denver Nuggets assistant coach John Beckett shares insights on NBA player development.
John Beckett initially joined the Denver Nuggets franchise during the 2016-17 season as the Director of Player Development. Before his time in Denver, he worked for the Delaware 87ers, where he conducted individual pre-game and pre-practice workouts to help players improve their skills.
Beckett also had a nine-year tenure with the Atlanta Hawks, where he worked as the team’s video coordinator and assisted with player development. His responsibilities included analyzing game footage and providing valuable insights to support the team’s strategies and player growth.
In addition to his work in basketball, Beckett spent 14 years as a freelance production contributor for Turner Sports and NBA TV. He was an esteemed member of the Emmy Award-winning “NBA on TNT” studio show, contributing to the production and analysis of NBA games and related content.
John Beckett Quotes:
“What we try to do with player development is try to break the game down. If we know a guy, when he gets in the game, is going to be involved in a lot of closeouts, we’ll try to simulate that action. We’ll try to simulate where we’ll have multiple coaches on the floor along with multiple players . . f we can break all these actions down, not only close outs, but DHOs, and pick and rolls, you keep doing reps on reps on top of reps. That’s how guys will get a lot better.”
“Everything that we do, we try to base it on how things would go in the game. If a guy we know is a strong shooter, we know that other teams want to get him off the line. Obviously, we want to work on his in between game. We want to work on his decision making once he gets into the paint and also work on his finishing at the same time.”
“Once they drive in the paint, we don’t want guys to just stand there. We like for our guys to relocate. So, we have a lot of drills where . . when you drive and then once the defense collapses or the defense rotates, then you make your decision. We do a lot of things where we have guys drive in the paint. We have guys on the perimeter moving as that drive is going, getting into their line of vision. So, if the defense does collapse, their teammates are in an open area where they can complete that pass.”
“We want to continually put the defense in those tough positions where they’ve got to continue to rotate and rotate and rotate. And then you hope at some point there’s a breakdown where you either get an open three point shot or maybe open layup at the basket.”
“Film study, understanding your opponent, knowing what the opponent is trying to take away. A lot of teams in the NBA, first and foremost, they’re trying to take away the paint. So, if they’re trying to take away paint, understand that that weak side is always going to be in a shrink position. A lot of times it’s hard to be in that shrink position but also see your man that you’re guarding. So, a lot of times cutting is available because of that. It’s watching film and it’s getting out there and playing.”
“The details matter. For example, if we’re working on pick and roll, I’m really big on when you come off that pick and roll and that defender is being real physical with you, make sure you’re bumping him, trying to run him into that screen . .when you’re coming off a pick and roll, the guy defending you, you should already be able to go ahead and beat him. Not only because he’s getting knocked off with a screen, because you’re also doing a great job with your set-up.”
“They [NBA players] are always watching film. We’ll watch film as a team, but those guys are also watching individual film for ways that they maybe can improve their game, whether it be on the offensive or defensive side of the floor.”
“When you watch film, it’s not just looking at stuff on the ball, it’s looking at off the ball, it’s looking at your shot selection. Is there a way that you maybe could have got a better shot not only for yourself, but for your teammates? Defensively, are you in the right position? Are you rotating? Are you understanding a player’s tendencies? Are you paying attention to the personnel?”
“I feel like when you come off the pick and roll, the guy guarding you, if you have a good enough set up and you have a good enough screen, he should not be a factor.”
John Beckett Breakdown:
1:00 – Winning an NBA Championship
2:00 – Without Practice Time
4:30 – Stimulating Decisions
8:30 – Shoot Threes vs Close Outs
11:00 – Developing Off the Ball
13:00 – Pre-Game
16:30 – Watching Film
18:00 – Off The Dribble
21:00 – Jamal Murray
22:29 – 23:41 – Hoopsalytics New AD
24:00 – System Coaching Perspective
27:00 – Defense
29:00 – Handling Struggles
30:30 – Ball Handling
32:30 – Working with Jokic
35:30 – Players Preparation
36:30 – Game Speed
39:30 – TV Side
43:00 – Conclusion
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