The Phoenix Suns hired Jeff Hornacek to be their head coach for a variety of reasons, but central among them is his ability to teach.
A 14-year veteran who was not necessarily known for his supreme athletic ability, Hornacek got the most out of himself and it is hoped he’ll be able to do the same for his players.
And while the organization would undoubtedly like to see everyone progress and improve, there’s little denying that one guy who may get a little extra attention is Michael Beasley.
One of the team’s big free agent signings last summer, Beasley produced arguably the worst season of his five-year career. Averaging just 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in under 21 minutes per game, the former number two overall pick found himself out of the rotation at points in the season.
Unless something changes, it will be up to Hornacek to try and coax a quality player out of the enigma that is the 24-year-old forward.
“I think the communication is big,” Hornacek told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Tuesday when asked how a coach can have success with a player like Beasley. “Players have to trust you, they have to trust that whatever you’re telling them is going to help them out as a player.”
Hornacek, who learned from coaching greats Cotton Fitzsimmons and Jerry Sloan, said plenty of coaches go into situations saying they have the key to unlocking a player’s potential. While he’s hoping he can do just that in Phoenix — but that there is no panacea, no one-size-fits-all method to making things work.
“It’s finding those right buttons to push,” he said.
So if that means getting some early shots for a player whose game goes in the tank if they get off to a rough shooting start or making sure a defensive-minded player is praised, the point is every player is different and every player will need different types of motivation.
Hornacek, though, says he played point guard his whole life and believes he has a good understanding of how to get guys to play hard.
“I feel I can do that and maybe even have a good relationship with Goran (Dragic) and start to teach him how to do that and hopefully it all snowballs into us becoming a good team.”