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Warriors Head Coach Kris Weems Shares His Vitals For Success In Basketball

Kris Weems | Head Coach | Santa Cruz Warriors

Developing and maintaining my network has been vital during my career in sports. Sometimes you need someone to give you tough love about improving in your current job while other times you need a reference to give you that extra push during a job search.

Kris Weems

Head Coach

Santa Cruz Warriors

× The interview with Kris Weems was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as the Head Coach of the Santa Cruz Warriors.

My role as Head Coach of the Santa Cruz Warriors is really focused on player development and establishing a clear, organized way of teaching the Golden State Warriors style of play.  The Santa Cruz Warriors are on the front lines of player development; getting players the experience and teaching needed to not only contribute to Golden State but to also further solidify their place in the NBA.

While focusing on player development and getting our assignments and two-way players the reps they need, we still set out to win a G-League championship every season and are fortunate to have access to great resources from the organization as well as valuable feedback and coaching/teaching infrastructure from the Golden State Warriors front office and coaching staff.

After I drop my two young daughters off in the morning, I head to Santa Cruz for our daily coaches’ meeting.  The staff and I establish our teaching points for the day before heading to the floor for pre-practice skill work.  Practice usually begins at 11 am after a brief message from me and video breakdowns of offence and defence from the staff.  Depending on where we are during the season, practice runs 60 min to 2 hrs on the floor as well as weight training and treatment before and after each practice session.

Finally, at the conclusion of practice, the staff and I break down the good/bad of the session and begin to plan for the next workout.  The staff consistently shares and compares notes on how to best mentor our players; who may need to have some one-on-one time over video clips or just to check in on a player’s mental and physical health.

After practice, I may chat with our GM about personnel or with Steve Kerr about the schedule of potential assignment players joining us.  The G-league constantly changes over the course of the season but it helps coaches build simple, concise plans to get the very best from players each time on the floor.

When you first started in the Warriors organization you were an assistant coach and a scout before becoming the head coach of the G-League team. How did the Warriors organization help you develop into a head coaching role?

I am extremely grateful to have previous experience as an assistant coach and scout with the Warriors. Steve Kerr has done a tremendous job in building upon an already strong culture lead by the organization’s 3 best players – Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.  I was able to coach all 3 players in my first stint and learned a lot from them in terms of humility, work ethic, daily approach and leadership.  All three of the players mentioned above exhibit high levels of leadership in very different ways and Steve and the coaching staff tie it all together.

I’m really proud to work with some of the best coaches, players and front office personnel in basketball.  You can’t help but learn and grow in an environment like that of the Warriors and I will continue to lean on the experience and talent throughout our organization while developing my own style and approach.  More than anything, I feel empowered to develop my own voice and approach while my staff and I are included in everything from staff meetings, video sessions, practices and pre/post-practice player development workouts during training camp.

At Stanford University you had the opportunity to play for the legendary coach Mike Montgomery. How has your opportunity to play for him influenced how you now coach yourself?

I was fortunate to attend and graduate from Stanford University, and I’m extremely grateful that Coach Montgomery saw such potential in me.  It was the best move for me and has opened up a ton of doors over the course of my career.  I am so happy that I made the jump from Kansas City, KS to Stanford and challenged myself; it let me know that I can do anything and more importantly, I have the tangible experience to share with my players that can help them on and off the court.

Coach Montgomery was all about preparation and knowing how to attack the other team by understanding your own style of play.  We were always ready to play against the very best teams in the country and gave us the ability to thrive in any situation.  Now I do my best to channel Coach Montgomery when it comes to game-planning and motivating my players to compete no matter the circumstances. 

In the sports industry we all get by with a little help from our friends that we make along the way. How important has it been to the success of your career to build good relationship with other professionals in the sports field?

Developing and maintaining my network has been vital during my career in sports.  It’s so important to stay connected with people in the industry for job opportunities as well as career advice.  Sometimes you need someone to give you tough love about improving in your current job while other times you need a reference to give you that extra push during a job search.  Relationships with people in the same industry give you much-needed perspective when it comes to job opportunities and how to navigate an extremely competitive market.

It’s also important to be around people that make improvement and growth a priority which will only help me find the opportunity that best fits my skills and career path.

Now with one year as head coach under your belt, how does your new position compare to other positions you have held with Santa Cruz? What do you like most about the new role? How do you see your career continuing to grow from here?

In moving from an assistant coach to the head coach, the responsibilities increased in terms of day to day management.  Instead of focusing on 3-4 players and developing and executing their improvement plans, I now check in with each of my assistants on their player development assignments and make sure that the players are engaged, understand their roles and are working to become a 24-hour professional.

I love the day to day grind of development, planning and execution.  The time I spend with the coaching and support staff is vital in executing the vision from Golden State and we do our best to be player-centric while striving for team success.

My goals for the upcoming year is to improve my voice as a leader and be very specific and intentional about the plans for each player and how those plans lead to team success.  I am fully committed to developing NBA level players while fighting for a G-League championship.

Our organization has a history of doing both and it’s exciting to think about how much better the staff and I will be over the course of the next season.  I would love to coach at the NBA level again and this opportunity has given me a chance to learn from and work with some of the best coaches in the NBA.

Stacey Leawood Stacey's Final Thoughts

Kris Weems has been using his various experiences in the basketball world from playing to scouting to coaching to build a supportive network of likeminded basketball professionals dating back to his college days. In a chaotic industry and an even more chaotic world that we’re living in right now, Kris offers a very valid point that not only do we need friends to help us in our job pursuits but that we also need our network to help keep us in check throughout the ups and the downs. Many of Kris’s mentors in his career have been coaches and I hope that his players will follow in his footsteps of learning from the wealth of diverse knowledge that they’re privy too throughout their development at Santa Cruz!

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