The Wolves’ newest shooting coach has both Chicago and San Antonio roots. Not surprising when you consider where coach Tom Thibodeau (Chicago) and General Manager Scott Layden (San Antonio) trace their most immediate NBA roots.
Peter Patton is a former Chicago Catholic League star who played four years at DePaul, setting a school record for three-point shooting in his junior season (54.1 percent) that still stands.
He is a disciple of Chip Engelland, the well-known shooting coach now with the Spurs, who is known for building the three-point shots of Shane Battier and Grant Hill, to name a couple. If there are head coaching trees to be traced all around the NBA, there are shooting coach trees as well.
“He was highly recommended by Chip Engelland, who is, I think, the best in the league at what he does,” Thibodeau said. “He’s still evaluating our players. He’s got to get to know them better. And he’s also prepared reports for me and he’s had an opportunity to work with a number of our players already. I like his background. I like that he’s worked with Chip before and that’s important to us.”
Improving the team’s shooting — particularly on three-pointers — has been Thibodeau’s stated goal since being hired as president of basketball operations and head coach.
Being a team’s shooting coach means working with players who have worked with other people over the summer. Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, for example, both worked with Drew Hanlen over the summer.
“His approach to shooting is very good, very similar to Chip,” Thibodeau said. “With most players it might be a tweak here or a tweak there. You’re not going to change [everything].”
In addition to working with current players, Thibodeau said he will lean on Patton during pre-draft evaluations. But, most important, he will work with each player.
“In most cases these guys have an understanding of what their shot is, and I want them to have a mental checklist so they can adjust in a game,” Thibodeau said.
With the official addition of Ed Pinckney to his staff, Thibodeau was able to share what qualities made him want to reunite with Pinckney. The two spent all five years together in Chicago.
“Just experience,” Thibodeau said. “And the fact that he’s been with me. He played in the league a long time, been a coach a long time. He can look at it from a lot of different angles. I think he complements our staff very, very well. I’m pleased with the guys we have.”
As with anyone — player or coach — Thibodeau stressed Pinckney’s work ethic.
“He’s an excellent worker,” he said. “He’s good at building relationships. He has experienced the ups and downs of this league, he knows the grind. You want a guy who will work hard, work well within the staff.”
• Brandon Rush was with Golden State late last year when the Wolves went to Oakland and beat the Warriors 124-117 in overtime. Here’s what he remembers: “I remember Shabazz [Muhammad] had 30-something [he had 35 off the bench]. It was insane. They were running past all our bigs and getting dunks. And it was like, ‘These guys are fast.’ ”