The NBA Summer League, whether in Las Vegas or in Orlando, allows young players to get on-the-job training.
Young coaches too.
First-year head coach Jeff Hornacek will lead the Suns Summer League team next month in Las Vegas.
“Obviously, I’ve watched these guys on tape,” he said following Tuesday’s pre-draft workout. “I scouted against the Suns when I was with the Jazz, so I’ve seen them play plenty of times in games, but to see them live and hands-on and start the coaching process in the summer, I’m happy to do it.”
Hornacek will have an experienced group, at least by summer league standards.
Current players Kendall Marshall and Marcus and Markieff Morris will be joined by Diante Garrett as well as PJ Tucker, who has agreed to play in a couple of games, plus whomever the Suns select in next week’s draft.
“That’s great that so many guys want to be involved and continue playing throughout the summer,” Hornacek said.
The Suns will play at least five games.
“We just want to see how they play and really emphasize the teamwork,” said Hornacek, who on occasion coached the Jazz summer league team while he was in Utah. “No matter what we run, if it’s simple, that they play as a team. They play hard defensively. That’s the start of it.”
NBA Summer League games aren’t too structured. Teams aren’t calling a lot of plays or running a number of different sets.
“You do a little of the coaching, but really you just want to see the effort,” said Hornacek, who along with Jason Kidd of the Brooklyn Nets will get their head coaching careers started this summer.
Hornacek may not install a lot of what he wants to do offensively and defensively, but these contests may give him an opportunity at late-game management.
“Maybe at the end of games, (you) draw up a couple of plays to see how these guys can pick up a play just from a drawing,” he said. “That’s the kind of players you need, smart players in this league, where if you see a mismatch towards the end of a game and you want to draw a play that maybe it’s something you haven’t practiced before, yet those guys can do it. You find out little things like that.”