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Trail Blazers Opening Plays Promote Assistant “Ownership”

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Mike Richman of NBC Sports Northwest details how whoever completes the scouting report for the opponent designs the first play.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers assistant coaching staff are engaging in a “quiet competition” over opening plays this season, according to NBC Sports Northwest’s Mike Richman. In the piece, Richman explains how the assistant coach in charge of the night’s scouting report is also responsible for drawing up the team’s first play. The team practices the opening play at morning shootaround for the first time. A success gets celebrated on the bench.

The first play has become a quiet rivalry among the Blazers assistant coaches. When games open with a successful play there will be high-fives and fist pumps up and down the bench. If it flops there’s sometimes exaggerated silence.

“I don’t want to say it’s an inside joke,” Stotts said. “But everybody knows that it’s that guys play, and if it works, everybody celebrates. If It’s a dud, everybody lets him know.”

Both Coach Terry Stotts and the players acknowledge that the technique has led to “ownership” among the assistants.

“It’s good just for having a little bit of ownership,” Rodney Hood said. “It’s a little thing between the assistant coaches. If we score on the first play everybody gets all happy for whoever the coach is. I think they keep tabs of it. I think they got an ongoing thing for the season, whoever’s got the besting scoring percentage or whatever. It’s a lot of pressure on the players to score.”

Keep an eye on the bench to see who’s up tomorrow versus the Nets. You can read Richman’s piece here.