The Basketball Podcast: EP327 with Matt Hill on NBA Transition

RELEASE DATE : 03/07/2024

In this week’s coaching conversation, Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Matt Hill joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on NBA transition and player development concepts.

Matt Hill brings a wealth of NBA coaching experience to the Charlotte Hornets, having previously served as an Assistant Coach with the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks (2018-2023) and the Orlando Magic (2017-2018). He began his NBA journey with the Orlando Magic in 2012, working his way up from Video Analyst/Scout to Player Development under coaches Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles, and Frank Vogel.

A standout athlete himself, Hill played college basketball at the University of Texas and was named Nebraska’s Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year in high school. He holds a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications.

Hill’s dedication to the game is evident in his career path. Transitioning from player development to coaching positions, he has developed a strong foundation in maximizing player potential and contributing to team success.

Matt Hill

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Matt Hill Quotes:

“We had talking points that we could refer back to.  I really loved some of our transition terminology, which was red, yellow and black zones. Red being the first 8 seconds of the possession, a transition possession; yellow being the middle part, the bulk of it where you might run and get into some sets; and black obviously being the last 8 seconds . . when you are taking the shot or dominating the possession . . It was a good way for us coaches to organize film and a lot of times we would just watch film within those categories.”

“I think we gave our players a pretty clear understanding that you have two or three options here [late in the shot clock]. We want our main playmakers to handle and we want them to handle in space.  Or we can run into a middle pick-and-roll or an angle pick-and-roll with our five, or some sort of small slip or advantage creation. If we wanted to target somebody or involve somebody in a certain possession, then that would be emphasized and we would bring that player up as well.”

“The players have to take some accountability on their end for knowing time and score. It’s really important in a lot of different areas of the game. What type of possession do we need right now? Did we just come down and miss three jumpers? Do we need to get downhill and get a foul call? Try to get something at the rim, something easy, slow the game down? Did this player just make two threes in a row? Do I need to find him? Do I need to run a play for him? It’s hard to teach, but I think you can do it with film and really engaging with the players in those sessions.”

“I realized how important it was for player development to have processes and organization and feedback loops. You can do it as many different ways as you want, but I think identifying what a player needs to work on is really important. Then having a process in place to implement that and then providing outcomes or a feedback loop to that player to gauge [progress] and that can be through tracking.”

“If three quarters of your shots are going to be corner threes this year, then we don’t need to spend 75% of your time on ball handling and finishing. There’s a fine line between working and growing your game and really doing what you do well.”

“And so that [player development] takes trust, that takes relationships, that takes communication with the players. And that, first and foremost, has to be set in stone before you can even have those conversations. And to me that’s done a lot with sweat equity and court time and just showing up and doing the work with them and being present and being there every day. There’s no replacement for that for me as a coach. If you can show a player that you can help them and help them get better and are committed to that, then they’ll buy in. They don’t really care who you are, if you’re a former player or not.”

“With almost every player you work with, whether he’s a starter or the 15th man on the bench, every player thinks that they’re ready for more right now.  So, again, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to initially build a strong foundation with these players. So that when you do need to have open and honest conversations about their game, what they need to work on, you can.”

“A lot of times, and I worked with a lot of bigs, it’s just not that pretty to work on this stuff, and it’s not sexy, it’s not fun a lot of times, but it can give you a great life and a lot of money to do two or three or three things really well. And then we can get to shooting some corner threes. But right now we need to work on screening angles and we need to work on finishing and we need to work on can you make two or three dribbles out of this delay action? And we have to do it every day and then we’ll work on your threes.”

“You want to challenge, you want to have fun. I think that’s really important. But you want to get better. That’s what I want. I want the player to get better.”

“Are you working and what are you working on? Okay, that’s a check. Second is, is it translating to the game? For players that are playing, it’s easy. I’ve worked with a lot of guys that want to try to get to the free throw line more or try to get their rim attempts up . . that’s an easy one [to chart statistically]. You can judge that, but you can also pull film and judge. This was a great opportunity to get a low rip and you didn’t do it. You can’t just look at numbers and say you’re not doing it. You have to go back and watch the film as a coach and say there was an opportunity to do it, but you misread the situation or you weren’t confident enough to go into that play yet.”

“The reps are the most important thing and the quality of the reps is important. So, we’ll put them in a middle pick-and-roll and  have them read the low man and X-out and make that pass, and then they’ll play out of it. Or we’ll have them run up into a small pick and roll and we’ll give the coaches coverages, and they [the players] are going to read those coverages and make simple plays.”

Matt Hill Breakdown:

1:00 – Coaching Experience
2:00 – End of Shot Clock Possession
7:30 – Coaching Strategies
8:30 – Rival Spacing
13:30 – Creating Space
16:00 – Processes and Feedback Loop
21:00 – Balance, Tracking, and Feedback
27:30 – Stats and Film Analysis
30:00 – Importance of Trust and Accountability
36:00 – Coaching Journey and Staff Development
40:00 – Four Different Coaches

Matt Hill Selected Links from the Podcast:

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