Jacque Vaughn’s changes from shootarounds to responsibilities working during Nets recent success

Brooklyn Nets players who did not dress for an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers watch the action on the court during the second half in Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. From left to right, Kyrie Irving, Nic Claxton, Joe Harris and Ben Simmons.
AP Photo/Doug McSchooler

Since Jacque Vaughn took over as the Nets’ coach, there’s been a noticeable change in how the team operates. Vaughn has done away with a majority of the team’s shootarounds on game days and he has given the players more time to recuperate.

The Nets have three days in between games this week and are using the break to their advantage. The Nets had off on Tuesday and on Wednesday Vaughn scheduled a “get what you need day.”  

Brooklyn did practice on Thursday, but the week was an example of how things have changed in Kings County. 

“It’s been good for everybody,” Nic Claxton said of the extended break for the Nets. “It feels kind of like an All-Star break. It’s been nice. We needed it. We had a lot of back-to-backs and a lot of traveling. So guys really able to just focus on taking care of their bodies and getting back to it.”

Trying to keep the team healthy is part of what’s gone into the change for the Nets along with the changing necessity of some of the traditional routines. It has been an examination that’s occurred in other sports as well, including baseball and hockey.

Some teams, like the Mets, limited the times they took batting practice during the season. In the NHL, teams have done away with morning skates, a similar routine to a morning shootaround in the NBA, or made them optional.

 “I think it’s just evolution,” Vaughn said.  “You kind of evolve with what’s going on with the times and part of that is keeping your guys healthy and having them fresh throughout the course of the year looking forward to what’s at the end of the year. So I think you have to evolve as a coach in which your philosophy. It’s just part of it now.”

The Nets coach has seen the benefit of it, he said, noting that he has noticed players more engaged in game planning and having fresher legs. “Hopefully, it continues and it gives us a chance to really hold them accountable to the effort and playing hard and what we’ve been talking about,” Vaughn said.

The change has also put more of the responsibility in the players’ hands rather than the coaching staff. It was something that Ben Simmons mentioned when he spoke to reporters on Thursday ahead of the Nets’ two-game road trip.

Considering the way Simmons, and some of the other players, have spoken about Vaughn maybe it isn’t such a surprise he’s entrusted more responsibility onto them.

“He trusts us a lot. I think he gives us that freedom,” Simmons said. “But with that comes responsibility in terms of being a professional, locking in, focusing on the floor, so he gives us a lot of leeway, but at the same time, it’s a lot of responsibility.”

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 Whatever Vaughn has done has seemed to work. The Nets have won eight of their last nine games and four straight heading into their trip to face the Toronto Raptors on Friday, 

“I say a combination of things. Guys are really, you know, taking heed to what JV. His philosophies, his principles, and that’s been really good for us. Hopefully we keep it rolling,” Claxton said.