NBA Summer League

Dubs assistant Rubin gets chills coaching summer league team

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When Warriors head coach Steve Kerr walks to the podium for his pregame media availability, he usually does so with Vans on his feet and a smile that reflects both business and the beach. He knows the task at hand, yet isn’t going to sacrifice his personality. Neither is Jacob Rubin.

The Warriors player development coach will lead Golden State’s summer league squad as head coach, starting in Sacramento and then Las Vegas, his first time ever at the helm.

Rubin’s personality is that of an Energizer Bunny, beating the drum faster and faster. The 30-year-old has gained the trust of the biggest names in the organization for his work ethic and demeanor and is giddy at perhaps his biggest opportunity – one that matches his rise up the ranks.

“It's crazy,” Rubin said Thursday at Chase Center, his smile matching his excitement. “I get chills, honestly, thinking about it. The first time I went to summer league was like in 2009, and I was just finding a way to be around the game.

“I get chills talking about it. For Coach Kerr and Mike [Dunleavy] and Kirk [Lacob] and Joe [Lacob] and Peter [Guber] and everybody to give me this opportunity, it's the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Players have been getting work in at the Warriors’ facility the last few days, but Thursday marked their first official practice under Rubin’s watch. A handful of players emphasized the competitiveness of the environment and felt they could already tell Rubin’s a player’s coach. He described the tone as “get your work in and get off your feet.”

Offensively, Rubin’s focus is to instill a ball-movement system that sets his players up for success with the Warriors. However, Rubin clearly is hammering home defensive concepts and wants to make it clear to his players that’s the first way to get on the floor for him.

And yes, it might only be summer league but wins and losses matter to him.

Warriors first-round draft pick Brandin Podziemski already has declared his biggest goal is to sweep the competition in Sacramento and Vegas, with a zero in the loss column. Rubin is right on board with that type of thinking.

“They know point blank, period, we're going to compete at the highest level,” Rubin said. “Every team that comes in against us knows we're going to compete. They're going to really have to bring it to play against us.

“This means ball movement in everything we do. That's just one of the things we do is share the ball, and then a big part of our practice is being a great teammate, because that's who we are here.”

The Las Vegas Summer League champions last year were the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland then won 33 games and had the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft. The one year the Warriors won it all in Vegas was 2013, a prelude to a season where the Warriors fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs and then began their dynasty of five straight trips to the NBA Finals the next season.

Summer league is a balancing act. Rubin badly wants to win, it’s in his nature. Development still has to come first regardless of his win-loss record.

“I actually talked to the guys about this,” Rubin said. “We want to win. There's no doubt about
it. But that's kind of the result. The goal is the process of trying to get better every single day.

“We're going to have to live with some growing pains, especially from some of our rookies, some of our first-year guys that we have. But that's just what makes it more fun. Just trying to put them in a position where they don't have to think, just put them in a position where they can play fast, play quick and play free, and hope that we just continue to give them little things that we want them to work on that we think will translate.

“But I think if we do those things, I think it will translate to winning.”

Podziemski and second-round pick Trayce Jackson-Davis highlight the Warriors’ summer league roster. Gui Santos, the lone draft pick left from last year, is back after a season spent learning in the Warriors’ Santa Cruz G League affiliate, as is Lester Quinones who excelled so much for the Sea Dubs that he earned a two-way contract at the end of last season, and has a lot of fans in the organization. Quinones, who turns 23 years old in November, is the veteran of the group and the one who already has built a relationship with Rubin.

The trust factor is there, and Quinones is excited for Rubin’s aggressive mentality to shine in a larger role.

“I have 100 percent faith in Rubin as a coach,” Quinones said. “He's a great coach. He understands the game at a different level, and just like myself, he's a competitor. I feel like practices every day are going to be competitive, and we're going to get after it every single day.”

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Rubin is entering his eighth season in the Warriors’ organization. He spent two seasons in Santa Cruz, first as a basketball operations coordinator and then one as manager of basketball operations, was a video intern for the Warriors, assistant video coordinator, lead video coordinator and recently has been a major part of their player development system. He has learned from Kerr, Mike Brown, Kenny Atkinson and so many others, and even raves to his wife in a sense of this all being surreal for all the basketball knowledge he has absorbed from all the big names who have been a part of the Warriors and still are.

The best advice he has received is a reminder to us all, in all walks of life. Breathe and be you.

“I think the biggest thing that people have told me is be me,” Rubin said. “I just am who I am for whatever reason it is. Just to keep things simple but preach what you believe, believe what you preach. I try to be as genuine and authentic as possible. That's kind of been the biggest thing, and it's trust your instincts, trust what you've been through.

“I'm going into year eight here. Just trust what you've been through and just let it go. Be who you are and see what happens with it.”

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