Coach . . . its a term of endearment. It means one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy. In the NBA, however, it has never meant woman. Until now. Becky Hammon just finished her first season as the first professional female coach for any of the three major sport franchises (NBA, MLB, & NFL). Her instructor and director was the venerable Gregg Popovich, a man Pelicans fans have come to admire and despise, all at the same time.
Becky Hammon, as a player, has a long list of accomplishments. She went un-drafted in the WNBA but would later go on to become a perennial All-Star and All-WNBA team member. Despite her small stature and slower foot speed, Becky Hammon’s drive and wit propelled her to success. It was that same drive and keen analytical mind that interested Gregg Popovich, and those traits will certainly catch the attention of Dell Demps.
This season, as a member of the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff, Coach Hammon helped mentor the Spurs point guards, and was tasked with taking care of the little things in the preparation of a game: scouting opposing teams, giving the players feedback during practices, and strategizing plays. She made an all around great impression on Coach Popovich and the rest of the Spurs organization.
Coach Hammon, relative to other plausible candidates, has very little NBA coaching experience. NBA coaching experience, however, doesn’t always correlate to success; look no further than Brad Stevens and Jason Kidd, two of arguably the brightest minds in the game.
What Coach Hammon does have going for her is a philosophy and ethos that likely align well with Dealer Dell. She comes from the same lineage as Dell Demps, (but so did Monty). Plus, all the research on her, and just a close look at her playing experience, suggests her coaching philosophy is open to analytics and centered around a true meritocracy. (Something Pelicans/Hornets fans have been deprived of since Byron Scott coached the team in the late 2000’s)
Dell’s priority over the past few years has been trying to leverage more from the PG position. If anyone knows how to increase the efficiency of PG’s, its Coach Hammon. Last season under the tutelage of Coach Hammon, Patty Mills and Cory Joseph had career seasons. Also, if selected, Coach Hammon’s lack of name recognition would likely allow Dell to remain at the head of the Pelicans organization, something that is undoubtedly important to him.
Still, Coach Hammon’s lack of experience objectively projects her more towards an upgraded assistant coach position on the Pelicans coaching staff, not quite as head coach. Nonetheless, we are at a point where her name should routinely be mentioned, not because she is the most qualified candidate, but to reaffirm the idea that someday she might very well be the best candidate. And when that day comes, hopefully her name will be so well tread, that blazing new trails will be easy for NBA General Managers.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave your *hate* free comments below. For more of my personal musings about the Pelicans you can follow me on twitter @jdbillio