Hornets general manager and president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak officially announced additions to his basketball operations’ staff today, including player development coach Nick Friedman. James Borrego expressed his excitement about the Friedman hiring at his media luncheon last week, along with Thursday in Chapel Hill. Terry Rozier also praised the Hornets’ new player development coach Thursday as Friedman was Rozier’s full-time trainer prior to his breakout year in 2017 and in summers past.

In Chapel Hill Thursday during the Hornets’ media availability, James Borrego stated that the hiring of player development coach Nick Friedman shows how important player development is to this team and that the Hornets are fully committed to it. “We believe it is the life blood of this organization… We found the right guy.”

Friedman is going to be responsible for the players going back and forth from Greensboro and Charlotte. This includes two-way players – currently Robert Franks and Ahmed Hill – as well as other players on the Hornets full-time roster who will go to the G-League to work on their game. We saw this happen with Dwayne Bacon and Devonte’ Graham last year, and it will likely occur with P.J. Washington and Cody Martin. Borrego stated that Friedman will also work with a few Swarm players on their development as well.

James Borrego was hired for his expertise in player development, and it was very important to him to find the right guy to be the liaison between him and Jay Hernandez, who oversees player development for the Hornets. Friedman will be in constant communication with Hernandez to make sure there is no miscommunication about how he is developing the players, getting them used to the Hornets’ terminology, and staying on top of their day-to-day work.

Borrego thinks Friedman’s “holistic” skillset is an ideal fit. “He (Nick Friedman) understands what we value. The type of shots we are looking to create. The shots we are trying to work on – finishing, the threes, attacking closeouts… He knows how to play fast, from the teams that he’s come from, and he understands our system at a high level.” Borrego has an idea of the types of players he wants to develop and has full confidence in Friedman’s ability to put his plans into action.

Starting from the Bottom

The talent pipeline at the NBA starts at the bottom with the young guys, and the progression of a team’s young players is imperative to their long-term success. This especially applies to Charlotte as their future is dependent on the development of Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, Malik Monk, and even Terry Rozier. Charlotte is not a free-agent destination, so the only way to acquire all-stars is internally through the development of their own players.

The Hornets are headed in a new direction organizationally, and the best possibility for future prosperity is the day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year development of their youth. They are setting the foundation for successful player development, and the hiring of Nick Friedman furthers proves that.

Nick Friedman has an impressive resume and fits exactly what the Hornets are looking for.

Who is Nick Friedman and what’s his story? 

Nick Friedman was a former D-III basketball player at Bates College in Maine before transferring to the University of Miami to finish his bachelors degree. He became a grad assistant for the Hurricane’s men’s team and was with them during their Sweet 16 run in 2016. 

His rise started in the G-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets affiliate) in 2016 where he was the Director of Player Development and their Head Video Coordinator. He moved on to be the Assitant Coach/Offensive Coordinator with the Northern Arizona Suns (Phoenix Suns G-League affiliate). The last two years he has been the Associate Head Coach for the Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics G-League affiliate) before coming to the Hornets.

Friedman also trains NBA players in the offseason and prepares prospects for the NBA Draft through his company, “The Preparation.” He has trained athletes from the likes of Dennis Smith Jr. to Kevin Knox to Taurean Smith and others. His name is well-known, and he has a good reputation amongst NBA players.

Terry Rozier and Nick Friedman

The most notable athlete Friedman has trained is the Charlotte Hornets’ very own Terry Rozier. He was Rozier’s trainer for several summers and also worked with him when he was on the Celtics when he would get sent down to the G-League (Maine Red Claws). Most notably, Friedman and Rozier trained every day prior to the 2017-18 season.

Two summers ago, the year going into the year where I kind of blew up, I worked with him every day over the summer. Everywhere I was at, he came with me and we got it in. Sometimes twice a day… He gave me that confidence and just helped me with my game. So it’s great to have him on.”

On Thursday, Rozier offered nothing but praise for his former trainer and now player development coach. “Nick is great. I’m happy for him… He definitely deserves the position he is in.” Rozier likely won’t be working with Friedman as much as other young Hornets like P.J. Washington or Cody Martin, but having a familiar face and a guy who knows Terry very well will be nice to have on a daily basis as Rozier transitions to a new team.