Three reasons Becky Hammon should be an NBA head coach

Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Becky Hammon directs players on the floor during an NBA Summer League game against the Knicks at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Becky Hammon directs players on the floor during an NBA Summer League game against the Knicks at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Becky Hammon has impressed everyone as an assistant, but her NBA coaching prospects shouldn’t stop there.

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Becky Hammon just hoisted a trophy at NBA Summer League as she coached the group of young San Antonio Spurs and NBA hopefuls to a championship in the Las Vegas tournament. While second-year forward Kyle Anderson may have been the star in the action on the court, it’s Hammon who is the superstar in the making coming out of Summer League for San Antonio.

Hammon made her mark at Summer League simply by taking the clipboard on the Spurs’ sideline. Hammon is the first female head coach in the history of the Las Vegas based league. Subsequently, she’s also the first female head coach to lead her team to a championship in the tournament. This all comes after the season where the Spurs made her the first female assistant coach in NBA history.

However, Hammon’s lists of first in the NBA shouldn’t end with being the first female assistant and first head coach of a Summer League team. As she prepares to begin her second season as an NBA assistant, Hammon should have her sights set on one day running her own team as a head coach. At this point, there’s no reason not to. In fact, here’s three reasons why Hammon deserves to be a head coach in this league.

Coaching Under Gregg Popovich

Coaching as an assistant under a particular head coach seems like a trivial qualification for someone to be a head coach, but Popovich yields that kind of power in the NBA. Popovich’s coaching tree in the NBA stretches exceptionally far around the league. Though it has been to varying degrees of success, coaching and learning how to coach under Popovich is something that league executives respect and honor when it comes to hiring new head coaches.

As that relates to Hammon, coaching under Pop is only adding to her arsenal as a basketball mind. Hammon played professionally in the WNBA and overseas for 15 years prior to entering the ranks as an NBA assistant coach. She has the respect that comes with that kind of professional career, but also the knowledge of the game of basketball from around the globe that comes with it as well.

When you take what Hammon already has to work with in terms of her savvy as a potential coach and add the tutelage of Popovich, her candidacy for being an NBA head coach is only furthered. If she continues to learn from him and pick up more of the nuances of the NBA, having worked under Popovich will be a glowing part of her resume.

Connection With Players

One of the things that has been striking about Hammon’s first year as an assistant and at NBA Summer League is the fact that players have raved about her. After their victory in Las Vegas, Spurs player Jonathon Simmons told ESPN of Hammon that he loved her even after only being under her guidance for several days. He added, “She’s a real cool coach. She’s a player coach. That’s something we all like.”

A player on the Summer League roster isn’t the only one to notice Hammon’s ability to connect and communicate with players. In fact, it’s one of the reasons Popovich and the Spurs front office decided to hire her as an assistant. Upon her hiring, Pop deservedly praised her basketball IQ and work ethic, but made a point to bring up her “interpersonal skills” as a great addition to the Spurs coaching staff.

With someone who can connect with players quickly and in a meaningful fashion like Hammon seemingly can, you have a rare commodity in the coaching ranks. Every year there are teams that clash with coaches for simple differences of vision and opinion. Having someone like Hammon that can get NBA players on the page she’s on is incredibly underrated.

She Can Coach

It may have just been Summer League, but it’s impossible to walk away from watching that Spurs team in Vegas and not be impressed with how the team was run. Obviously they were coached well enough in a short period of time to win the championship, but it goes deeper than that.

Out of timeouts and in other situations where Hammon had the opportunity to draw something up, the Spurs Summer League team was always in a fantastic position to put points on the board, even if they didn’t convert (after all, it was Summer League players). That may seem small, but for Hammon to show that kind of acumen in moments that head coaches who have been at it for a decade still struggle with is noteworthy.

Coaching under Popovich and being able to connect with players is important for Hammon’s coaching aspirations in the NBA, but it’s not the chief reason she deserves to run her own team in the league. She knows the game of basketball and knows how to scheme and draw up plays to make her team succeed on the court. With everything else, it seems like there’s no way Hammon won’t one day be coaching an NBA team as the first female to do so.

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