Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Jay Hernandez didn’t want to be talked into getting into the G-League bubble in February.
He volunteered for the gig.
Hernandez will coach the Greensboro Swarm’s season on Disney’s campus exterior Orlando, Fla. That means leaving the Hornets for about six weeks to coach video games each different day in a quarantined surroundings away from his household.
For Hernandez, that’s gaining expertise as a head coach. For the Hornets, it’s maximizing synergy in creating younger gamers, with the added complication of a bubble in pandemic occasions.
The Hornets selected not to retain Joe Wolf as Swarm coach. When the Hornets dedicated to fielding a Swarm group this season in Florida, Hernandez stepped up to oversee it.
“This plays to my strengths, and is also something I want and need to do,” Hernadez informed The Observer.
“In these times, if you hire a G-League coach for this position, maybe they’re not allowed in training camp because of COVID protocols and they’re not able to hear the (Hornets) messaging or see the drills first hand, to understand how to teach things.
“I know all those teaching points, I know the talking points. I can go in there very confidently, knowing exactly what J.B. (Hornets coach James Borrego) wants to do and how he wants to do it.”
Hernandez has been a Hornets assistant since Borrego was employed as head coach in 2018. He has a heavy background in growth, and helped oversee the stronger synergy between the Hornets and the G-League affiliate since Borrego and basic supervisor Mitch Kupchak took over basketball operations.
Hernandez has a private motivation, too, in taking this task: He wants expertise as a head coach, and the G-League’s bubble season will imply being in cost of no less than 12 video games.
“I came to them. This is something I’ve been wanting for a long time in regards to having an opportunity for head-coaching reps, and to develop young players in the way they’re developed in the G-League,” Hernandez stated.
The Hornets have had main success over the previous two seasons with their growth program: Devonte Graham, Cody and Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels — all gamers both drafted in the second spherical or who went undrafted — have improved sufficient to find yourself in Charlotte’s rotation.
The Hornets established its G-League affiliate in Greensboro to make it simpler for gamers to commute between the Hornets and the Swarm. The Hornets additionally employed a growth specialist, Nick Friedman, to supervise gamers in the pipeline between the Swarm and the Hornets.
Hernandez indicated Friday that Friedman will stay with the Hornets throughout the G-League bubble, whereas he oversees the Swarm.
Charlotte was one in every of 17 NBA teams that dedicated to making a G-League bubble at Disney, comparable to the one which allowed the NBA to full final season. There will even be an elite growth group, known as Ignite, that will play in the bubble.
The Hornets have 4 rookies on the the roster who have been both taken in the second spherical (Vernon Carey, Nick Richards and Grant Riller) or undrafted (Nate Darling) and are getting restricted growth alternative in the absence of the G-League. The Hornets are in a span of 10 video games in 16 nights, so there have been few practices throughout off days.
Hernandez and the opposite assistants have the rookies and different gamers exterior the rotation scrimmaging 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 when time permits. But that’s not the identical factor as sport reps that the G-League can present.
The Hornets haven’t but stated how a lot time Carey, Richards, Riller and Darling will spend with the Swarm in the bubble. NBA protocols, to restrict COVID-19 unfold, will complicate the method of shifting gamers back-and-forth between the NBA and the G-League subsequent month.
But Borrego was relieved the Swarm would have a season when the announcement was made Jan. 8. The bubble added expense to fielding a G-League group this season that almost half the NBA selected not to pay.
“I’m thrilled. I’m very appreciative of our organization to invest in something like this,” Borrego stated then. “I think the last two years, we’ve all learned what development can do for (a team) internally. We have a number of examples of those guys, and this is a continuation of that.
“I don’t want to get into who is going to play there just yet, but we’re going to use the program. We believe in it. We’ll have a number of guys getting reps in the G-League.”
Hernandez as Swarm coach can facilitate that; he already is aware of these rookies and their ability units, and is intimate with the system Borrego coaches. This rookie class has misplaced quite a bit already — no summer time league, and no actual summer time of preparation between the draft and coaching camp.
“We can only do so much off the court, with Zooms and discussing things,” Hernandez stated. “Mental reps are great, but a lot of (development) is getting that time on the court.”