It’s hard to say, at this point, what the Nets most underrated move was this summer. It’s early, of course, and there are a number of moves that look like they qualify. Still, the Nets hiring of Adam Caporn as Long Island Nets coach could be a big deal. Caporn moved on from running Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence to coaching in the G League.
“He’s ran probably the best developmental program in the world in the Centre of Excellence in Australia and that’s something that we want to do with Long Island — to make it sustainably one of the best developmental programs that we have here stateside,” said Matt Riccardi, Long Island’s GM, indicating that the Nets have moved on from hiring a new coach every year to a longer term strategy.
“We targeted him and Sean Marks did a great job recruiting him as well. We looked at him, said, ‘How can we get this guy in our system?’ If we can find a way to put him in charge or our development, especially on the Long Island end, let’s do it. Let’s make it happen.”
It’s part of what Tom Dowd, the Nets in-house beat writer, calls Brooklyn’s “Who do we not know that we need to know?” mentality.
Caporn, who was also an assistant coach with the Australian national team in Tokyo, admits it’s a big move, but says he’s ready.
“I’ve had some involvement with our senior national team as an assistant coach and that got me excited about working with this level of player and the challenges that come with that,” said Caporn. “Ultimately, it’s also the NBA. It’s a goal that I’ve had. I felt like my time in Australia had come to an end because our program is ready to continue growing without me and I felt really good about that. As I started investigating other opportunities, I was really fortunate this one came up.”
The 39-year-old had several of his former proteges on the Boomers, including the newest Spur, Jock Landale, the national team’s 6’11” center, and lottery pick Josh Giddey of the Thunder.
After a playing career was cut short by knee injuries, Caporn got a coaching gig at the East Bay school before returning to Australia and the Centre of Excellence where he spent seven years working with teen-aged prospects.
“I’ve been really focused on development and I’m really excited to bring that side of things to Long Island and help the players progress out of the G League and to make their dreams come true and make the NBA,” said Caporn.
“From a playing style, I really enjoy the international game and I hope to bring a little bit of that flavor to what we do here, but like a lot of coaches, I like things that have good space, good up-tempo and exciting game style, but also a style defensively that represents our organization and Long Island well, where we play tough and we play together.”
It looks like Caporn will have a lot of willing students. The Nets already have one two-way signed — 3-and-D prospect Kessler Edwards — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Nets two other second rounders, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray, also suit up in the red, white and blue. It’s also possible that Brooklyn’s two first-rounders could spend time at Nassau Coliseum. Same with Sekou Doumbouya maybe.
Riccardi thinks there may be a learning curve as Caporn transitions from working with high schoolers to pro’s.
“He was dealing with probably a little bit younger players but has a great track record of getting guys to high-level colleges, a few guys that are breaking through to the NBA and one guy that’s going to the G League Elite now and will be a draft pick in the future,” said Riccardi.
“He’s developed guys from a young age. I think there’s similarities to what he has done there and what we would be asking him to do with some of our young guys here, absolutely.”
Caporn and Patty Mills have a relationship as well. The two are not just tied by their experience in Tokyo but are also alumni of St. Mary’s College of California, (the big rival of Steve Nash’s alma mater, Santa Clara.) The two form a mutual admiration society.
“Obviously, courageously led by Patty Mills, it was a fantastic thing to be around, to support, and when it happened it was really hard to define,” Caporn said of his Olympic experience. “It was a really special moment but just as rewarding was seeing the joy it’s brought everyone back home and how proud we are as a basketball nation and really happy for those players that have invested so much to get that done.”
Added Mills, “A great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for everyone else to see how he goes about his craft. His attention to detail. His knowledge about the game. High basketball IQ and his ability just to have feel for his players, his team and the ability to connect with his players. It’s good to know he’s got that opportunity.”
Caporn’s first Long Island Nets experience will likely take place at the end of this month. He will be at Long Island’s two open tryouts in Brooklyn and Long Island on September 25 and 27, working with Riccardi to find yet more diamonds in the rough.