The Rio Grande Valley Vipers had a significant area to address before the start of the season. After Coach Abdelfattah led the Vipers to their fourth championship this past year, he was added to the Houston Rockets coaching staff. As a result, the Vipers have been searching for their next head coach for the last couple of months.
Today the Vipers announced they were hiring Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach and former Rockets player development coach Kevin Burleson as the franchise's ninth head coach. Burleson brings a lot of experience not only as a coach but also as a former player.
Vipers announce Kevin Burleson as their next head coach. Burleson played for the Charlotte Hornets from 2005-2006. He played for several D League teams and was a player development coach for the Rockets in 2014-2017, most recently an assistance coach for the T-Wolves pic.twitter.com/SU3cfD7lNt— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) September 7, 2022
Burleson, a Seattle native, played one year in the NBA with the then Charlotte Bobcats. He would go on to play several seasons overseas and in the NBA D-League, finishing his career in 2013 with the Egyptian team Al-Ittihad Alexandria. His coaching career started with the Houston Rockets in 2014 as a player development coach.
Burleson coached with the Rockets from 2014-17. At the next stop, Burleson served as the associate head coach for the G League team, the Iowa Wolves. In 2018-19, Burleson joined the Memphis Grizzlies staff as an assistant coach for player development. He then joined the Minnesota Timberwolves staff first as a player development coach, and in 2020, he was promoted to an assistant coach before joining the Vipers for the upcoming season.
I asked Coach Burleson about his coaching style after today's press conference.
Like Viper coaches before him, Coach Burleson realizes how intertwined the Rockets and the Vipers are from an organizational standpoint and their style of play. The Vipers, like the Rockets, want to push the pace, take three-pointers instead of mid-range and get to the basket as much as possible. As a result, the Vipers were the number one scoring team in the G League last year by a wide margin.
The Vipers, unlike the Rockets, are not sure who will be on next year's roster, as G League teams have to wait for NBA training camps and the preseason plays out before they can fill out their squad. The Vipers training camp starts October 24, with the season opener on November 6 vs. the Mexico City Capitanes.
****Side note Kevin Burleson is the brother of Nate Burleson, the former NFL player. Kevin and Nate Burleson are one of only two sets of siblings in which one played in the NBA and one in the NFL.