July 10, 2009, Stephen Silas coached from the sidelines of the COX Pavilion Center, serving as the acting head coach of the Golden State Warriors during the NBA’s Summer League. For Silas, the opportunity to serve as the Warriors coach during their five-game Summer League contest in Las Vegas marked the first prominent assignment of his coaching career.
On a balmy Friday afternoon, the Warriors dropped their Summer League season opener to the Houston Rockets, 73-69, under the stewardship of Silas. James White propelled the Rockets to victory with 14 points, while Chase Budinger contributed 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Anthony Randolph led Golden State throughout the game with an efficient 20-point performance on 60 percent shooting from the field. But Silas was more vigilant by the offensive struggles coming from his rookie, Stephen Curry.
Curry, who the Warriors drafted with their first selection (No. 7 overall pick) of the 2009 NBA Draft 15 days earlier, finished the game with 16 points on a modest 4-14 shooting from the field and a load of personal fouls. After a dull debut, Silas began chronicling Curry’s on-court deficiencies throughout his rookie season. Silas’ purpose was to help Curry live up to the lofty expectations of a lottery pick.
Twelve years later, the notes and documentation Silas collected throughout Curry’s rookie season became the foundation that generated eight All-Star appearances. Three championship rings. Two league MVPs. And the player who would set the NBA’s record for most career threes. But Silas could not foreshadow recycling the notes he took of Curry in 2009 as the blueprint to nurture Jalen Green as the head coach of the Rockets over a decade later.
“Every experience that you have throughout life — to me — is something that you can draw back on and use in the future. I keep pretty tight notes that are detailed. I’ve been blessed to coach a lot of young guys within their first few years. To have those notes to refer to is pretty cool to have.” — Sillas
The first time Silas disclosed his notes to Green occurred during a pre-draft visit between the two respected parties in July. Green was captivated by the reports. Six months after their initial encounter, Silas is astounded that the same on-court imperfections that held Curry back during his rookie season are similar to Green.
For starters, one of Silas’ early critiques of Green is to strengthen his physique as an undersized two-guard — who currently weighs 186 Ibs at 6’4”. With his offensive skill set, Silas wants to see Green improve his ability to hide the ball when penetrating to the basket. And once he reaches his spot in the paint, Silas wants Green to forge a variety of different finishes around the rim.
But just because he has the blueprint to a Hall of Famer’s career, Green is more focused on the process other than the outcome — as he understands it’s a long journey before he grasps all of his imperfections as a rookie.
For Green, it means more for him to go through the rigid grinds of his first NBA season with Silas as his head coach. His knack to instill confidence in his young players is one of Silas’ most significant attributes as a coach. It’s the primary intangible Silas used as an assistant with the then Charlotte Bobcats to help carve out a 13-year NBA career for D.J. Augustin.
And Green isn’t the only young Rocket benefiting from the confidence Silas infuses within his players. Kenyon Martin Jr. attributed Silas’ belief in him after scoring a season-high 17 points in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night.
“I thought it was cool that he [Silas] showed me that. If you stick to the plan, you are going to be great — and Steph is great. It’s a process. There are going to be a lot of highs and lows because it is a long season. But the fact that coach Silas is staying with us throughout the process means a lot.” — Green
The Rockets No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft has had a subtle start to his NBA career— averaging 14.3 points on 37.3 percent shooting from the field through his first 34 games.
Nearly every one-on-one lecture with Green revolves around Silas’ blueprint of Curry. But the career memoir Silas assembled for Green goes beyond the Warriors star point guard, as his teachings also include the tutelages of Kemba Walker, Luka Doncic and LeBron James.
But amid assisting the groundworks on what is sure to be a long and prosperous career, Silas has already begun keeping tabs on Green to prolong his never-ending coaching logbook.
Twelve years from now, Silas hopes to use Green’s deficiencies of today as the paradigm for the next generation of players.
“These guys go through so much, and I do have a lot of experiences working with younger players. I was just trying to find some stuff that I could relate to now. Jalen loves this kind of stuff.” — Silas