NBA

Hawks Are Nearing Deal to Hire Nate McMillan As Assistant Coach

Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan on the sideline during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat at AdventHealth Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The former Pacers head coach is reportedly on the verge of heading to Atlanta to work alongside Lloyd Pierce. McMillan previously played for the Seattle Supersonics in the ’80s and ’90s as their starting point guard.

McMillan’s previous coaching job with the Pacers saw his teams fall victim to four straight first-round playoff exits. He also coached the Blazers and Sonics prior, but he never went farther than the Conference Semifinals.

Fired just this August after an early exit from the NBA bubble, McMillan is en route to Atlanta in an effort to support young star Trae Young and further his development.

Victor Oladipo saw a similar transformation under McMillan. In 2016, Oladipo averaged just 16 points per game, but after spending a year with McMillan, he averaged 23 and made his first all-star team.

Oladipo’s development became a trademark of McMillan’s time in Indiana. Contrary to the playoff exits, McMillan actually surpassed expectations in Indiana. After Paul George’s departure, the Pacers never had a true star outside of Oladipo. Despite this, McMillan continued the playoff streak with a greatly underwhelming squad.

McMillan Impact

Instead of rebuilding as he did in Indiana, McMillan now has the task of aiding a growing franchise. With Young coming off a 30 PPG and 9 APG year, Atlanta has a future to look forward to with Young looking to become a franchise superstar.

The Hawks also have the 6th pick in this year’s draft to add to their squad.

McMillan’s new assistant role finds him a bit out of the spotlight in comparison to Indiana. The offloaded pressure may see him shine in a system already built around Young, who could be Atlanta’s first superstar since Dominique Wilkins starred in the ’80s and ’90s.

While in Indiana as an assistant, McMillan coached under current championship coach Frank Vogel. When the season restarts this winter, he may look to integrate the Lakers’ “run-n-gun” philosophy into the Hawks.

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