Coaching Candidate: Will Weaver

By Dillon Sage

In my opinion, during a head coaching search, it is better to hire a coach to be a more gifted offensive strategist than a defensive one because it’s a much rarer commodity. In a league where it’s four out (four in the perimeter, one inside), finding a guy that can draw up creative schemes to keep defensives reacting and creating space is worth its weight in gold. Will Weaver has been a candidate for the Pelicans, Thunder, and Clippers. 

Will Weaver started his coaching journey at the University of Texas as a volunteer (2006). While earning his degree, he would run camps after he graduates from Texas. He got the job as a graduate assistant (2007) then become a special assistant (2009). While Texas, the Longhorns went 103-39 (.725), making it to the tournament all four years. 

In 2010 after he graduated from UT with his Master of Education, he got a job at Sam Houston State as an assistant coach. At his time in Huntsville, Texas, he befriended Sam Hinkie, the GM of the Rockets at the time. In the two years at Sam Houston State, the Bearkats went 31-32 (.49)

In 2013 the Philadelphia 76ers hired Sam Hinkie as the General Manager, and Hinkie offered Will Weaver a job with the 76ers. The 76ers started their “The Process” era, so they lost many games to get those high lottery picks. The thing about losing so many games you are scouting and putting a lot into player development. 76ers developed and then traded many players for better players. Hence, the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit. 

In 2016 Will Weaver got hired by Kenny Atkinson because of his work on the player development side for the 76ers. This was another rebuilding situation, but Will Weaver had more potential with forwarding development in the franchise. 

In the 2018- 2019 season, Will Weaver got his first head coaching job with the G-League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets, the Long Island Nets. In his first season, The Nets were the number one team offensively, rebounds pace, the fourth-best defensive team, and most importantly, two of his players got called up to the Brooklyn Nets. To be the fast and most efficient offense while maintaining an elite defense is rare. They put a significant emphasis on turning defense into offense. Think Prime Warriors defense with Ron Adams.

For 2019-2020, Will Weaver became the head coach of the Sidney Kings, where the Kings had the best record, 20-8, and lost in the Finals of the NBL. We have a link to a full game of the Sidney Kings.

I will break down what I like and dislike from this game film on one of the biggest days of the season

First things first, this is NBL footage, so the talent level is below what we are used to with an NBA team. So imagine the dribble drives from Jae Sean Tate, Casper Ware, and Didi Louzadato, and imagine Damian Lillard

CJ McCollum and Norman Powell with that space created finishing aginst one on one defense. 

Pros: 

The people Will has surrounded him with have influenced his offensive schemes. It looks like the goal of the offense is to generate attempts at the rim, the free-throw line, and threes. He doesn’t leave the playmaker to create all of the offensive themselves. They utilized a lot of off-ball movement. Slashers created space by cutting to the rim for lobs, used dribble handoffs to get their ball handlers moving downhill at the hoop. Making the defense send extra help to stop the ball handler creates the option to either finish in the lane or kick it out to shooters ready for the catch and shoot. 

One of the first actions that I saw reminded me of a series of actions the Blazers currently do: a pocket pass from the center at the top of the key, finding baseline cutters. We know that Jusuf is comfortable being that playmaking hub for the team. 

Defensively it looked to be a mix of drop coverage and switching. Kings had multiple long, athletic defenders like Jae’Sean Tate and Didi Louzada, leading to the Kings’ best defenses in the NBL. Once the Kings created a turnover, they were incredibly efficient at creating scoring points off that turnover. 

The Kings hunted out mismatches for the offense to attack, and they would try and get their creators matched up against the defenses worst player and then go after him and forced the opposing team to take that player out. Playoff basketball is all about finding the opponent’s weaknesses and attacking them. 

Cons: 

This game is one of the most crucial game of the year for the Kings. He didn’t change his rotation at all, so his better players get more mins shows a stubbornness that is a 180-degree difference from Stotts, who shrinks his rotations too much and goes in the Coach Budenholzer way of thinking where he’d rather lose the series than play Giannis more minuets. 

This problem might be quite a bit nitpicking, but we talked about rotations on the podcast for the entire year. There aren’t perfect coaches in the NBA everyone has faults. I want a guy whose flaws are very fixable.

Interview with Will Weaver on the Basketball Immersion podcast:

Cover photo of Will Weaver via the Long Island Nets

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