Despite facing significant adversity in the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League, the Houston Rockets still finished with a winning record (3-2). Summer league head coach Will Weaver, who is an assistant to Stephen Silas in the regular season, likely deserves much of the credit.
Prized rookie Jalen Green — the No. 2 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NBA draft — was unavailable for more than half of Houston’s total minutes due to a hamstring strain. Armoni Brooks, who was the top NBA scorer among players with previous league experience, missed three out of the five games due to health and safety protocols. Returning players KJ Martin and Khyri Thomas each had their summer stints end early, as did rookie big man Alperen Sengun, while rookie forward Usman Garuba was a late arrival due to contract buyout negotiations.
Nonetheless, the Rockets still had their share of highlights and wins, headlined by a dominant performance versus Detroit and recent No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham. Rookies such as Green and Sengun understandably drew the most attention from fans, but Houston’s game plans were sharp and organized, which helped the Rockets overcome not having as many experienced NBA players as most other teams.
That’s where Weaver comes into play. Now 37 years old, the second-year Rockets assistant and former head coach of the Sydney Kings (Australia) stressed playing with a fast pace on offense, switching at all positions but center on defense, and generally keeping it simple.
In an exclusive chat with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Weaver said:
We’ve certainly tried to layer it to where we’re not expanding the menu. We’re trying to stay within a tight set of patterns on both sides of the ball, and hope that our guys can really dive headfirst into those and come out of the experience feeling like they grew.
For now, Weaver is quite happy with his current role alongside Silas in Houston. But if the Rockets win more games and earn attention for their success and approach, he’s certainly young enough to where his name could one day become a hot commodity in head coaching searches.
“I’ve been lucky to be a head coach in several different contexts, in the G League, overseas, and national team events,” Weaver told Iko. “You don’t ever take the opportunity to be in a position of leadership lightly, and I certainly don’t. I’m appreciative of the opportunity Rafael [Stone] and the team have given me, and certainly learned a lot just within this week about how I can do a better job as an assistant coach and hopefully as a [NBA] head coach in the future.”
The complete interview between Iko and Weaver can be read here.