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April 12, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers small forward Victor Claver (18), point guard Damian Lillard (0) and power forward Joel Freeland (19) look on from the bench as time winds down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Rose Garden. The Thunder won the game 106-90. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

What Nate Tibbetts Means For Portland

The Blazers have hired Nate Tibbetts to replace Kaleb Canales as Portland’s Assistant Coach. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this move. Tibbetts has had a superb career, coaching in the NBA D-League, and is already familiar with Terry Stotts. If I’m being honest, normally my eyes glaze over when I see “D-League” on a resume. It has a connotation of 2nd-class quality, which isn’t really fair. So why am I so excited for Nate to join our team? Because the Blazers are, for the most part, a band of rookies in need of development.

Lillard, Leonard, Barton, Freeland, Claver; all have 1 year of NBA experience and a much higher ceiling than they’ve reached thus far. With more rookies on the way, Portland is pushing their development into overdrive to make sure they capitalize on the youth of their roster. Tibbetts has the skills as a teacher and the tools as a coach to mold each rookie into the best sophomore they can be.

I think that’s why Portland snatched him up less than two weeks after Kaleb Canales took that job in Dallas. By acting fast, the Blazers have ensured an entire summer’s worth of intense training, designed to round the rookies into the role players they need to be. There is one, however, with immediate star potential; Damian Lillard. So what makes Tibbett the man to take Damian to the next level?

Here is where things get interesting. You see, I haven’t disclosed the entirety of Tibbetts’ experience. In 2011, Tibbetts left the D-League to train another rookie point guard; Kyrie Irving. Yep, the 2012 NBA rookie of the year and NBA all-star, Kyrie ‘Swerving’ credits Nate Tibbetts with getting him where he is today. Have you ever looked at Damian Lillard and thought, “the way he shoots the three reminds me of Kyrie”? Well I have. And now the Blazers have secured the man who is partially responsible for Irving’s prominence. Imagine what he could do with Lillard.

Actually, let me branch off and focus on Lillard just a little more thoroughly, now that I’m on the subject. He has the work ethic every coach dreams of and is in position to utilize new tools for his development. This summer he will be working with 1996 Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, Gary Payton, as well as the man responsible for training and developing the best young NBA point guard since Chris Paul. It would seem the Blazers are investing in Lillard’s future 100% and I’m on board.

I know many of you were sad to see Kaleb Canales leave, as was I, but talk about closing doors and opening windows. By hiring Nate Tibbetts, the Portland Trail Blazers send a strong message that they will not waste any time in bringing their youngsters up to speed. The possibilities are cause for celebration, salivation, and expectation.

@davidmackaypdx | @ripcityproject | [email protected]

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Tags: Assistant Coach Nate Tibbetts Portland Trail Blazers Rookies

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