Ladies and gentlemen... we got him:
Sources: Minnesota is hiring Portland assistant David Vanterpool as associate head coach. He’ll run defense and play key role in support of Ryan Saunders. Vanterpool spent seven years with Blazers, playing a prominent part in growth of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 6, 2019
I cannot stress this enough — this is a fantastic hire. Living out in Portland, I can attest to the fact that DV is/was absolutely beloved by all levels of the Portland Trailblazers franchise, including the coaches, front office members, and most importantly — the players. Vanterpool played a significant role in the player development side of the team, and had a tight-knit relationship with guys like CJ McCollum, Moe Harkless, Zach Collins, and most notably — Damian Lillard.
Vanterpool originally became an assistant coach with Portland back in 2012, and prior to that he spent 6 years as an assistant with CSKA Moscow (where he also played professionally). Before he turned pro in 1996, DV played four seasons at St. Bonaventure.
As Woj mentioned above, Vanterpool will now be tasked with being the team’s “defensive coordinator,” which as Dane Moore points out, could be fairly interesting:
An interesting element to this is that Portland ran defensive drop coverage (well) with Jusuf Nurkic.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) June 6, 2019
Thibodeau, of course, had the Wolves running drop coverage, and it didn’t work well.
— Will Vanterpool keep them dropping?
— Can KAT execute the way Nurkic did? https://t.co/UPPPqYrTPW
What type of defensive strategies will Vanterpool bring over from his time in Portland? That will remain to be seen, but it’s clear that Gersson the Great (h/t John Meyer) wants to surround young Ryan Saunders with fresh, experienced faces, rather than simply scrolling through the Rolodex of former Country Club members like Sidney Lowe.
One interesting note: it was widely reported that Juwan Howard was originally offered a similar position with the Wolves, before turning it down to take the University of Michigan gig. Now the position has been offered to and accepted by Vanterpool. What do those two men have in common? Well, they both “interviewed” for the head coaching position last month, before Rosas ultimately decided on retaining Ryan Saunders as his lead man. Just something to keep in mind...
Another interesting note: DV was an assistant on Team Canada when Andrew Wiggins last played for them back in 2015, and it is widely known throughout NBA circles that the two men have a strong relationship. If Vanterpool can be the key to enhancing the GDP of Wiggins Island (Guard Development Process), this hire alone will be another massive home run for Team Rosas.
If you want to read more about Vanterpool’s role in developing Portland’s dynamic backcourt, check out this in-depth article from Real GM back in 2017.