Jeff Hornacek, The Shot Doctor

The jump shot in the game of basketball is much like a golf swing. So many little things have to be in place and have to be right for the perfect shot and even just the smallest detail can derail that perfection. Many people who have been around the game of basketball or have been a fan for 20-plus years know Jeff Hornacek’s was as close to perfection as it gets. Now it is one thing to be able to shoot the perfect shot but it is another to be able to coach it. The fact he can do both is truly rare.

There are small things many people will just gloss over when you hear coach speak during interviews with coaches and players but if you listen closely to Hornacek, you can pick up small details of things he can notice in a jump shot that almost no one else would pick up or even pay attention to.

I am watching the Suns practice on NBA TV’s ‘Real Training Camp’ from Phoenix on Tuesday which was truly an awesome perspective and unique access that fans and even the media do not often get the chance to see. Sure, they most likely kept the practice as basic as it gets for TV, but there was still a lot of unique things that were displayed.

One thing which really perked my interest was a moment when Hornacek pulled aside Gerald Green during a shooting drill portion of practice. He mentioned to Green that he noticed he was leaning and fading forward when going through the drill shooting uncontested jump shots. Now who am I to talk. The highest level of play I reached in my basketball playing career was at the varsity high school level but being a shooter, there were times where my shot would just not fall and I could not figure out why for the life of me. It is so easy to develop bad habits when shooting and that starts on the practice court when putting up shot after shot in drills. Hornacek noticed this small flaw in Green’s shot which is something that may not have been effecting him at the time, but could have been a habit that he picked up in a practice that transferred into a game. 

Green acknowledged this and made the necessary adjustments. Since I noticed this conversation take place during the “coach speak” segment of the show, I paid close attention to Green and noticed a more straight up and down elevation on his jump shot which led to some makes and some very close misses. 

On media day, Hornacek was asked about second-year player Archie Goodwin and his development over the summer. He goes on to talk about how he had spent the entire summer for the most part in Phoenix working on his game and putting on some good muscle. As he put it, “He is able to get to the basket and take hits and not have his legs fly into the air.” What seemingly slipped through the cracks when Hornacek was describing Goodwin’s development was a small detail in his shot that he saw he needed to work on.

“Strength helps him in his shooting also,” Hornacek said. “Where it could be come a little more wrist action rather than all arm action.”

Now I am sure there are other head and assistant coaches out there that pay attention to detail like this and a lot of this thought process and vision from coaches may not be new. But for a coach of a team that is young, looks to run-and-gun and has the strength of the team being guard play and shooters, having the “Shot Doctor” as the head coach of your team to lead the development is exactly what this team needs to take the next step into the playoffs this season and beyond.