David Fizdale is continuing to build his coaching arsenal. The Memphis Grizzlies announced Wednesday the additions of Bob Bender as an assistant coach and Bob Thate as a shooting coach onto Fizdale's coaching staff.
Bender has great coaching experience. According to the Grizzlies press release, Bender began his coaching career as an assistant at Duke University under Mike Krzyzewski from 1983-89. He is also a former head coach himself. Bender was the head coach at lllinois State (1989-93) and Washington (1993-2002). After his college coaching days, he worked for the Philadelphia 76ers from 2002-04 as a player development coach and later as an assistant coach.
Bender continued to move up the coaching ranks, becoming an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-13 and Milwaukee Bucks in 2013-14. Last season, He worked as a scout for the Brooklyn Nets. It’s also worth noting that Bender and Fizdale have coaching ties together in Atlanta, working together for four seasons.
Thate worked as a shooting coach for the Los Angeles Clippers from 2012-16 after filling the same role for three seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, mentoring superstars such as Blake Griffin and Jason Kidd. Thate has a great reputation as a shooting coach in the NBA. According to the Memphis Grizzlies press release, Griffin shot 52.1 percent from the foul line during the 2011-12 season. While working under coach Thate, his free throw percentage increased to 72.8 percent and 72.7 percent over the last two seasons, respectively. After shooting 32.9 percent from the three-point line in 11 seasons, Kidd shot 37.0 percent from three-point range over the final eight years of his NBA career after first working with Thate in 2005.
Thate has an opportunity to further develop Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Chandler Parsons as shooters. The Grizzlies have always been a team that has shot poorly from beyond the arc. With the addition of Thate to the coaching staff, Memphis has a chance to expand their offense. Younger players will also expand their range and percentages under the new shooting coach.
This is a great move for Fizdale and the Grizzlies.