Wes Unseld Jr.’s best lawyers for Wizards head coach were former players – NBC4 Washington
Former players have argued strongly for Unseld Jr. originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
When Tommy Sheppard and his team gathered information on one of the many candidates for their head coach position, a pattern emerged from the Wizards general manager.
In the case of Wes Unseld Jr., a high proportion of those arguing for the longtime assistant coach to have a chance to lead a team were players.
“In the NBA, players talk to players and they were Wes Jr.’s best defenders,” Sheppard said at Unseld Jr.’s introductory press conference. “A lot of our players have heard from other players who played for Wes whether it was in Denver or other places he had been, so they were very aware of what they were getting as a head coach before. [Unseld Jr.] had the chance to reach out and move forward and build those connections with the players. “
Unseld, who was officially introduced as the Wizards’ head coach on Monday, has spent the past 16 years as an assistant in Washington, Golden State, Orlando and, most recently, Denver. When you’re in the NBA this long, you’ll leave an impression on the players, and Unseld Jr.’s reputation in the league seems to be excellent.
“When you look at his career, not just when he was in DC, but he worked with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson when they were young, with [Nikola] Vucevic, Tobias Harris, [Victor] Oladipo when he was in Orlando, ”Sheppard said. “And certainly you are watching the MVP season which [Nikola] Jokic had done it, and Jokic was begging him not to leave Denver. “
“When the players call you in and say ‘you should hire this guy’, without solicitation, that’s pretty impressive to me.”
Unseld Jr. stressed the importance of player buy-in when discussing his success in fixing the Nuggets’ defense, among other accomplishments he has had over the years. In a league where stratagems can only get you so far, getting players to play hard has become a key skill for head coaches.
At first glance, the Wizards have found themselves someone who can reach players in different ways and get them all to shoot in the same direction.
“A great satisfaction for me has been his reputation over more than 20 years as an assistant coach in the NBA,” said Sheppard. “The players know, they talk to each other, and it’s the best sales job we could ask for is when another player from another team tells our players what’s going on through the door.”