Chip Engelland Rumors
The intel on Thompson was so jumbled, the Spurs needed two private workouts before deciding to attempt trading up to get him. After one workout, Chip Engelland, the Spurs’ shooting guru, told the front office something that made their hair stand on end, officials remember: Thompson’s competitive nature reminded him of Manu Ginobili. “There’s something deep in there,” Engelland recalled. “He has that chip. When you see it, you know it.”
Sam Mitchell: The only guy we had to help work on his shooting was Jose Calderon. And we hired a guy named Dave Hopla. Ever heard of him? He’s in Detroit now. To me there are two guys — him and the guy in San Antonio [Chip Engelland] — who are the best. They teach shooting the best I have ever seen. Hopla could come out here right now and hit 97 of 98 threes, just getting out of his car. And the thing about it, he doesn’t want to coach, all he wants to do is teach shooting. That’s it. He doesn’t come to your coaches meeting. Just teach shooting.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would have you believe that’s even more impressive than it sounds, because the 6-foot-7, 24-year-old wing has had to adapt to a new position. “He was basically a big man in college,” Popovich said Monday before matching up against Anthony and the Knicks, according to NBA.com’s John Schuhmann. “He didn’t play on the perimeter. When he came, he couldn’t shoot a three until Chip Engelland got a hold of him. So all of this is new to him as a perimeter player, defensively, offensively, his development with some of the moves he has that Chad Forcier works with him on. All of that has been an education for him. So he just keeps progressing.”
Whenever Engelland works with a player, it starts with a conversation: How comfortable do you feel with your mechanics? Are there areas where you think you can improve? Where do you need help? “It’s hard,” Engelland said. “To improve and change mechanics that you’ve had for 18, 19, 20 years? It takes times to rewire those things.” Leonard was an easy sell, Engelland said. The Spurs acquired him in June 2011, and Engelland already knew from scouting him that his release point could use some refinement. Leonard had a tendency to bring the ball too far behind his head, and it reminded Engelland of the way Richard Jefferson shot the ball when he came to the Spurs in 2009. After working with Engelland for a season, and reconfiguring his release point, Jefferson shot a career-best 44 percent from 3-point range during the 2010-11 season.