Yesterday, we posted the first part of our two-part interview series with current Long Island Nets head coach Will Weaver. Since that piece, the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League has announced that Weaver will be leaving the G League and coaching that squad starting in the 2019-20 season. While we can spend all season talking about his impact on the Nets and potential replacements, Weaver still needs to try his best to help lead Long Island to their first ever G League title.
In the final part of this series, the current Long Island coach talks about the impact that role players like Mitch Creek, Tahjere McCall, Shannon Scott and Jordan McLaughlin have had on the team.
Ridiculous Upside: Let’s talk about another forward that you might’ve actually had a personal relationship with before the season. While he’s a rookie to American basketball, Mitch Creek is someone that has a lot of experience in international basketball. Do you think that outside experience in places like Australia and Europe helped him make a smooth transition to G League ball?
Will Weaver: Without a doubt. There’s no substitute for experience. However good, how much talent there is in the G League, it’s still a relatively young league. When you play around the world, you’re playing against grown men, and Mitch brings, both from his style of play and also his tenacity and commitment to be a professional, that resonates throughout the way he goes about his business, and I think helps not only him but helps our players and our coaches and our performance team.
I’m not surprised, because, as you mentioned, I have worked with Mitch in the past. He’s obviously a big part of our Boomers program that’s getting ready to compete in the World Cup coming up this Fall with the goal of trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. I think that he has shown many skills that are NBA quality. I think he’s done it with our team, and I think he did it in his opportunity that he got with Brooklyn. I’m excited about where his career could go from here.
RU: How has he taken on the role as the veteran leader to guys like Nuni Omot and Dzanan Musa?
WW: Although some teams have really rigid captains and team leaders, I view it a bit differently, and this stems from my time in Australia, where everyone has a role to play in leading the group. There are times when that means listening to what others say and there are times versus saying things that others will listen to.
I do think that, as an example, Mitch and Alan, being more veteran players, bring a lot to our group and provide younger guys the opportunity to see how good work adds up, whether it’s foam rolling or shooting free throws after practice or studying film or communicating with an official in an appropriate way. I think all those things are advantages that not only our young guys, our young players get, but that I get access to and get to watch on a daily basis.
RU: Alongside Williams and Pinson, a big player for Long Island’s offense has been Shannon Scott. How big of a role has he had when it’s come to pushing Nets to having one of the better offenses in the G League?
WW: Shannon is as skilled a floor general as you’ll find and someone that really understands the game and how he can affect it, and so you see, obviously, the gaudy assist numbers, games where he logs triple-doubles with 20 assists. I mean that is a very special kind of accomplishment. He does it in a way that’s not stat-seeking.
He’s a two-way player. He defends just as hard as he plays on offense. He doesn’t rest on D. He’s improved his shooting a bunch, and I think there’s lots of reasons to think that he can serve a very valuable purpose on an NBA team and a wide number of purposes: guard ones and twos, distribute, shoot. There’s a lot to like about his prospects as a long-term NBA guy.
RU: You talk about a two-way player in Shannon Scott. Other two-way players on Long Island have been Jordan McLaughlin and Tahjere McCall. How big of an impact have those two players had on both ends of the floor?
WW: Jordan is clearly a NBA talent, and, maybe even more importantly, a top-tier professional. That’s something that’s remarkable given his age and the fact this is his rookie year, but what doesn’t he do? He shoots, he penetrates, he’s a heck of a passer, and he reads the game and knows what’s going on better than most, including me most nights. He is someone that I think we’ve been lucky to keep on our roster all year long.
I think other people have missed the boat on just what a talented player he is. Again, his unselfishness, both he and Shannon, have started and come off the bench and dealt with injuries and played different roles, played on the ball, off the ball, guarded bigger guys. That’s telling, and it tells you what kind of player and person Jordan is.
In terms of Tahj, Tahj is a part of the five returners that we had from last year’s team and created a remarkable sense of continuity that not only helped me, coming into this program for the first year, but I think any time you have guys that know what the G League season is like and can help other guys navigate through it, I think that’s a huge positive. He is the best defender in the G League.
I think that you see Brad Beal is not excited for Tahjere McCall to match up against him when Tahj is on his 10-day in Brooklyn and they’re playing against each other down the stretch. I think that he is in that Pat Beverly kind of mold. I think that Briante Weber and DeAndre Liggins, they’re guys who have had opportunities just on the backs of their defense. But he’s also a guy who’s really improved his shooting by working with Milt Palacio, who is an individual coach. It’s night and day, the difference in his ability to shoot the three right now, and he’s so quick and so explosive that he’s not just somebody that you can forget about on the offensive end.