On this episode of The Edge, we sit down with Nick Friedman, a Player Development Coach with the Charlotte Hornets. We spoke with Nick about his career in basketball, from a D3 player to his time at the University of Miami, the G League, and now with the Hornets. Nick also went into detail on how he’s working with players right now, the importance of the G League, the best way to work with video and technology, and the best pre-draft workout he has ever seen.

Podcast Highlights

2:19 – How Nick communicates with players during COVID: “Lots of films. We did a lot of post-season evaluation for guys making plans on development. For guys like Jalen McDaniels, Caleb Martin our two way guys, Kobi Simmons, Ray Spalding, just putting together a year long review of where we think we can get them better and just hitting them with some quick hit stuff.”

2:50 – Controlling and harnessing emotions in the NBA and G League: “When it gets to the NBA level and the G league level, in particular, it becomes more about the psychology and the emotions and controlling those and harnessing those than it is really about the skill. We get really concerned about shooting percentages, finish percentages, all that. But if your mind isn’t right, you’re not really at terms and at ease with who you are and who you need to become.”

5:12 – Michael Jordan’s selflessness and how that translates to coaching in the G League: “It’s so unbelievable to see how he was that superstar to just be a true definition of what it takes to be selfless and why selflessness translates at every level. It’s one of the hardest things we struggle with as coaches, particularly at the G League level.”

11:40 – Nick’s journey from D3 to NBA G League: “So I go from the University of Miami, we’re about to start our season’s first day of college basketball practice and I ended up getting notified by the Houston Rockets that I just got an internship with their G League team in Rio Grande Valley.”

12:49 – G League has small staffs: “If you build trust and you’re able to run drills and get guys to be able to listen to your teaching and your coaching, you ultimately step into somewhat of a pseudo assistant coaching role.”

14:49 – Witnessing Fred Vanfleet’s and Pascal Siakam’s development: “I personally would have thought he wasn’t going to be this good, but I can tell you that he (Fred Vanfleet) was an NBA player. Pascal that season, hadn’t played very much with the Toronto Raptors and people didn’t realize that Pascal didn’t play that many games in the G League. But when he came down, they were very strategic with putting him in high pressure winning situations and he blossomed.”

26:10 – What’s the Pro Basketball Combine?: “You have a ton of guys that obviously don’t get invited to the (NBA) combine you have, like Antonio Blakeney, who was a borderline draft pick & two way level player at the time who doesn’t make it to Chicago and needs a setting to be evaluated in by, NBA Scouts in live competition.”

28:55 – The best workout Nick has ever seen: “Dennis Smith pro day was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever seen. That was by far the most impressive workout that I’ve ever seen.”

35:56 – Going back and forth between a G League organization and a NBA team: “It’s that sense of you’re living out of a suitcase but that’s kinda been like the definition of my life the last five years, just with going from G League to Pre-draft and you don’t really have a sense of home, so I’ve been used to it, but at the same time, you have to be very disciplined with just not overthinking and just having a macro perspective versus a micro perspective.”

37:47 – Day in the life of Nick Friedman: “I try to get in the office by 7:30am. Hit the film for me. Try to read a little bit and then hit the film. Really plan out the concepts and points of emphasis that I want to show a couple guys that day.”

42:57 – Showing video to players: “I think the more that we can empower our players to think on their own, whether it’s by sending them edits with a text overlay. I think that allows us to build a stronger relationship.”

45:30 – Advice from Jim Larranaga: “He was the first one to make me truly realize that without that fundamental base, there’s nothing that you do that truly translates.”

48:44 – Nick’s advice to anyone who wants a career in basketball: “The first thing I’ll say is never shy away from experience. I think if you’re ever in an opportunity to truly have the freedom to run something you gotta take it.”