On Tuesday night, in a simple pregame drill, an
Wes Unseld Jr. tossed a basketball off the backboard, and Nicholson grabbed the rebound. As Nicholson jumped to lay in the ball, Unseld slapped Nicholson's arm as the rookie banked the ball in off the glass. A few seconds later, Nicholson collected the ball again, and Unseld grabbed him as he elevated off the ground.
"Good!" Unseld yelled when the ball went in.
They repeated the process several more times. Then, it was O'Quinn's turn.
Assistant coaches throughout the
"There's definitely a youthful energy," Magic guard
No one exemplifies that youth more than Vaughn, who, at 37 years old, is the NBA's youngest current head coach. Just three seasons removed from his playing days, Vaughn looks as if he still could step onto a basketball court and play a few possessions.
At each full timeout this preseason, Vaughn has huddled with his three bench coaches — James Borrego, Unseld and Brett Gunning — and has spoken with them before he talked to the players.
After practices, assistant coaches for player development
The six men have worked together only for a couple of months, and one of their key tasks is to develop chemistry with each other.
"That part of it has been unbelievable," Vaughn said. "We eat together. We talk, not only about basketball but about life, about each other's families. That part of it has been unbelievable. You don't know when you put a staff together . . . how guys are going to mesh together."
Vaughn wanted his coaches to bring an array of backgrounds.
Borrego, his lead assistant, started his NBA career in 2003 with the
Profit, who played in 135 NBA games, offers a former player's viewpoint. Stuckey spent the last four seasons as the head basketball coach at a high school outside San Diego.
"Even if we're talking about post-ups, the perspective from each individual gives me something that I can think about in a meeting," Vaughn said. "Then it's up to me to decipher what I'm going to do with that information. But I get a great variance of having those guys on the staff. They've been great."
Vaughn and his coaches spent a total of 13 seasons as NBA assistants prior to this season.
Van Gundy and his staff brought more experience when they were hired by the Magic in 2007.
Van Gundy and his lead assistant, Brendan Malone, already had combined for four seasons as NBA head coaches and a total of 24 seasons as NBA assistant coaches. The other three assistant coaches —
That group went on to compile a 259-135 regular-season record during their Magic tenure.
Malone, Ewing, Clifford and Beyer split the game-planning responsibilities for future opponents, and they also played significant roles in player development.
Borrego, Unseld and Gunning will divide the game-planning work on the new staff, Vaughn said.
Vaughn also will receive some help from Gordon Chiesa, who has the title "special consultant to the head coach." Chiesa spent 16 seasons as an assistant coach with the
Vaughn hopes Chiesa will provide an outside perspective.
Vaughn calls the rest of the group "experienced yet young in their ways."
"So," he added, "they'll be energized and enthused every single day."