Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s new initiative puts team’s entry-level staff on a path to potential NBA coaching jobs

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is surrounded by his staff as they plan out their attack against the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the NBA playoffs at the Vivint Smart Home Arena Sunday, May 6, 2018 in Salt Lake City.

The video room has gotten a reputation as the NBA head coach’s version of central casting.

Eric Spoelstra, head coach of the Miami Heat, started in the Heat’s video room, after he was hired as a video intern thanks to a favor from a family friend. Later, David Fizdale would have the same position in Miami before working his way up to become head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and now the New York Knicks. Hornets coach James Borrego was the video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs, as was current Bucks and former Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. Nuggets coach Mike Malone and Orlando coach Steve Clifford both spent time in the Knicks video room.

Besides having a long NBA career, there may not be a more common resume item than video coordinator for NBA coaches and executives. And getting to an NBA career is, well, an impossible task for many.

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder noticed this trend and decided to embrace it. Rather than pretending that the “video intern” was the lowliest person on the staff, he’s seeing the position for what it is: a breeding ground for coaching talent.

So he’s replaced the video coordinator and video intern roles within the Jazz’s coaching staff with the “DAV Program," to teach and nurture the next generation of coaches. “DAV” is an acronym, standing for player Development, Advance scouting, and Video. Those are the three skills that Snyder believes a coach needs to be successful in the industry.

“I don’t want a video coordinator that’s focused solely on video, because there’s an interrelationship between the tactical part of the game, the strategic part of the game — which is what the video does a lot — and the teaching part of the game.”

The program is relatively small, owing to the size of the Jazz and other teams' video staffs, but the DAV "associates” work together with the rest of the coaching staff at a higher level than typical video interns. They’re mentored by assistant coaches, working to learn not only what’s in the video, but how to beat opponents on a game-by-game level and share that knowledge with the players.

That holistic approach is one Snyder has taken with the rest of his coaching staff as well. Most NBA coaching staffs have separated those tasks. For them, there are assigned player development coaches, who work to make the roster (especially the young players) better. Then, some coaches are assigned to watch an upcoming team’s film and build the scouting report and game plan for the opponent. Some teams have offensive or defensive coordinators, and every team has video assistants to help those coaches out.

Snyder wants his coaches to be able to do everything. So all coaches, not just the DAV associates, know how to use the video software, and every coach prepares video after the game to show the players he’s been assigned to developing. Rather than having one coach assigned to the advanced scouting duties, the Jazz do it in pairs, so that a coach with a development background can learn from one with a tactical background and vice versa. And there’s no offensive or defensive coordinator: the whole staff has worked together to create the team’s system.

“Hopefully everybody has some parts of responsibility across different areas, because that’s what the job really is,” Snyder said. “It’s not compartmentalized by nature, and if you are, you’re probably less effective as a coach.”

The head coach is definitely the leader of those efforts, but Snyder makes it a priority to lead by example and know every aspect of coaching as well. Snyder has tactical brilliance, to be sure: his FIBA magazine dissertation breaking down the hundreds of types of pick and roll is a great public example of this. But after practices, Snyder can be frequently seen interacting one-on-one with his players on the court, working through the footwork at an inch-by-inch level.

Creating jack-of-all-trades coaches also means everyone is more in-tune with the demands of the modern NBA. For example, for a surprisingly long time, big man coaches focused on developing post-up moves, even as the post scorer became extinct. The league had come up with more efficient ways of scoring, but some coaches were still trying to turn their bigs into Karl Malone or Kevin McHale.

But that naïveté can go the other way too: tactical coaches might ask the players to do something that they haven’t been trained to do, leading to ugly results on the court.

It’s still early (Snyder founded the DAV program this offseason), but the young coaches say they enjoy the emphasis on personal development in Snyder’s program, as well as the variety in their jobs. Of course, those in the DAV program work long hours, but that’s standard across the profession, and it’s easier to sacrifice that time when it feels like it’s leading to something more.

And there’s an example to follow: while not a DAV coach, Igor Kokoskov’s development as a coach under Snyder led to a Eurobasket title for Slovenia and an NBA head coaching gig in Phoenix. After just four years as a head coach, Snyder’s coaching tree already has a branch.

With the DAV program, Snyder hopes he’s planting a few more seeds.


At Smoothie King Center, New Orleans

Tipoff • Saturday, 5 p.m. MT

TV • AT&T SportsNet

Radio • 1280 AM

Records • Jazz 2-2; Pelicans 3-0.

Last meeting • Jazz 116, Pelicans 99 (March 11).

About the Pelicans • It will be the second game of a back-to-back for the Pelicans, after facing the Brooklyn Nets at home on Friday night. ... The Pelicans lead the NBA in scoring at 124 points per game. ... Anthony Davis is scoring over 30 points per game, while Nikola Mirotic is averaging 28 points per contest. ... Newest Pelican Julius Randle adds 19 points per game off the bench

About the Jazz • This marks final game of Thabo Sefolosha’s five-game suspension after violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. ... Jazz went 3-1 against the Pelicans last season. ... Donovan Mitchell’s career high in scoring came last December against the Pellies (41 points)