Thursday, October 09, 2014

Mokeski to bring Thrills and Threes to Brampton A’s

Assistant coach Paul Mokeski (left) with Head coach David Magley at 2014-15 Brampton A's Media Day

After an exciting inaugural season in the National Basketball League of Canada, the Brampton A’s have fully committed to its unique brand of up-tempo hoops for year two.

Predicated on ball movement, transition baskets and a high volume of threes, coach David Magley's squad was able to finish second in the standings with a 27-13 record and rank top three in the league in 3-Pt Made per Game (10.73), Total 3-Pt Made (483) and Scoring Offence per Game (104.7).

“One small goal for this season is we want to average 130 points a game,” said Magley. “It’s a big number, but the guy to my right coached Rio Grande Valley in the D-League last year and they were averaging 138 at one point.”

“Same length game, same length shot clock. There’s no reason why we can’t do it.”

The man sitting to his right is the newest addition to Magley’s staff in Paul Mokeski.

A veteran that has seen every type of basketball system imaginable, "Big Mo" has coached at all levels including the NBA Development League, internationally and in the NBA.

Mokesky and Magley have a friendship that goes back quite a while, all the way to their days at University of Kansas as teammates on the Jayhawks basketball team.

“I was a senior when he was a freshman,” said Mokeski. “I had been an All-American the year before and he was just coming in as Mr. Basketball of Indiana. He didn’t get to play that much that year, but we just stayed in contact and our paths have crossed back and forth.”

“Even in the NBA, when I was in my forth year with the Cleveland Cavaliers he was a rookie on the team. So getting the opportunity to be here and help him make that transition from a high school coach to a pro coach is great and I hope to help them get over the hump and make it to the finals after such a great first season.”

Mokeski is the perfect man for the job of helping the A’s reach that goal of 130 points a game and continue to develop a style he refers to as “organized mayhem”.

His work as part of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers coaching staff in the D-League has been talked about in basketball circles and featured on sites such as Grantland, a style predicated on ball movement, fast pace and only taking threes or high percentage shots next to the rim.

As an affiliate of the Houston Rockets, a team run by a believer in stats and analytics in General Manager Daryl Morey, the system RGV uses is based on pure numbers and data that dictates the elimination of the mid-range shot.

Statistically only having a two percent higher success rate when looking at the most common shots in the NBA, 39% from mid-range vs. 37% from three point range, the thinking is there's no incentive or value in taking a mid-range shot when a three is just as successful and worth an additional point.

“I’ve run this system for two years with Reno [BigHorns of the D-League], three years in RGV where we won a championship and with Great Britain during the 2012 Olympics,” said Mokeski to NBLCNET. “A lot of European teams are running this system but we’re taking it to an extreme.”

"Just so people know, the Houston Rockets shot the most threes in the NBA last year. They averaged 25 per game. We had a goal of averaging 50 threes per game and we ended up averaging 45.”

Not only is this system proven to work in other leagues around the world and is the modern way basketball is being taught, but it also elevates players skills and numbers to get noticed by top teams.

One of the main goals not only of the Brampton A’s but the entire NBL Canada is to develop and foster talent within the league and move them onto the highest level, an area where Mokeski thrives. 

“We really want to push the pace, attack the basket and have more possessions. The more possessions we have the better,” said Mokeski. “It’s about high volume and taking a lot of threes.”

“Last year with RGV when we had our best team, we had three players called up within two months of our season. When we had them on the team running the system we averaged 148 points a game.”

“I coached in the D-League for six years and during that time I’ve had 21 players called up to the NBA and five are still on NBA rosters, if I can get any of these guys up to that spot that would be very rewarding for me and for us as a coaching staff.”

This style of basketball is not only for the development of the players but also for the entertainment of the fans, as NBA teams like the aforementioned Houston Rockets as well as Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and defending champion San Antonio Spurs are known as some of the more enjoyable teams to watch.

“It’s a different concept,” said Mokeski. “It’s fun to play, REALLY fun to watch but there’s also responsibility on the players to not get too crazy.”

"I’ve had coaches, players and agents ask me about it and I’d say there’s a method to the madness.”