Woken Will Hardy

Erik Gee

Now that we have a list of potential coaching candidates for the Oklahoma City Thunder, we will take the next three days to profile each of them. Today we'll start with Spurs assistant Will Hardy. 

At 32, he is the youngest of the contenders mentioned by ESPN's Brian Windhorst during Friday's episode of The Jump.  According to his bio on the Spurs website, Hardy has spent 10 years in San Antonio. 

During that time, he worked his way up from being a video coordinator to becoming an assistant coach. From 2015-2018 Hardy was head coach of the Spurs Summer League teams and was the videographer for Team USA during the 2019 FIBA World Cup. 

Hardy has more than a few things that would make him attractive to Sam Presti. The most obvious is the Spurs connection, the same franchise in which Presti grew up in himself. 

Learning from Greg Popovich means he won't be a loose cannon with the media, plus he'll have a firm understanding and respect for Thunder's organizational structure. 

He'll be able to relate to a young Thunder roster better than some of the more seasoned coaches Presti might consider. However, he understands that he has to be the one in charge. 

In 2016 Hardy told the San Antonio Express:

"You still have to find a balance where you're not their buddy."... "You still have to command a little bit of respect as someone who they are going to listen to." 

"I just try to be somebody who they knew was going to bring a lot of energy every day and somebody that was going to be here working hard."... "I think that's how you gain respect from those guys." 

"Just by showing them that you take it seriously, and you think about it a lot and work hard at it."... "That way, when you have something for them, they know that it's thought through, and you're not just spitballing." 

Hardy will need to have a firm hand but be willing to listen to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, and Lu Dort. He'll also need to lean on Presti for advice because there is a good chance a lot of Oklahoma City's veteran leadership will be gone. 

Popovich says:

"He's a good learner, and he became someone who understood what was important as far as winning and losing. ..." And more than that, development on an individual basis for a player."

"He spent a lot of time (in the gym) over the last few years with Chad (Forcier) and Chip (Engelland) watching the drills, techniques, and how we approach those young kids in what we call a vitamin — what they do every day over and over again."

Because the season won't likely be starting till January, the Thunder can take their time to make this hire. Also, it might benefit whoever the new coach is to have the roster set before they walk in the door. 

Mandalorian-This-Is-The-Way-Quote

Presti will do his due diligence, and in the end, he will choose the candidate that best fits the Thunder mold. This is the way. 

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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past eight seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.

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