This is the fourth in a series of profiles on the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff. Today, Right Down Euclid will focus on the youngest member of the coaching staff; Bret Brielmaier.
There are all different levels of status when it comes to coaching in the NBA. Obviously, the highest level is that of a revered head coach such as Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich. Beyond that, veteran head coaches tend to receive more respect than their new colleagues, and head coaches typically receive more respect and attention than their assistants. One important step regarding coaching status in the NBA that some are not aware of is the difference between being an assistant who is on the bench during games and an assistant who is not. Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Boylan and Jamahl Mosley will be on the bench during every game the Cavaliers play this season. They are also listed on the team’s website as members of the coaching staff and will be familiar faces to Cavalier fans watching the team on television. Despite also being members of that same staff, Vitaly Potopenko and Phil Handy (both of whom will be profiled later) will not be on the bench this season, nor is their any mention of them on the Cavaliers’ roster page. Today, we will take some time to learn about a coach who is making the jump to the bench for the first time in his career at just 27 years old; Bret Brielmaier.
Brielmaier began his coaching career as an undergraduate assistant with the Arizona Wildcats for the 2008-09 season after playing for the team from 2004-08. Brielmaier credits Lute Olson, Josh Pastner and former Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap as his major influences during this time. Brielmaier was then hired by the San Antonio Spurs as a workout coach, working with players on their skills before, during and after practice, and then watching film and breaking down teams afterwards. While the only time Brielmaier sat on the bench was during summer league, he had the opportunity to learn from Coach Popovich and his staff, as they ran one of the most respected organizations in the NBA. He was then promoted to video coordinator for the Spurs, following a similar path to Cavaliers coach Mike Brown (a former video coordinator for the Denver Nuggets and assistant coach with the Spurs). Brielmaier held this position until his recent hiring by Brown as a member of his coaching staff.
So what does Bret Brielmaier bring to the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff? While no one knows what kind of coach he will be in a position of greater responsibility, there are a few things we can hypothesize. First of all, as a disciple of Popovich, Brielmaier has seen some of the best methods for developing a team and culture that promotes the individual development of players, team-oriented play and the dedication to achieve elite goals. Brielmaier’s mentor Dunlap may have only lasted one season in Charlotte and was not a favorite of many players, but he was known for his dedication to preparation and focus on skilled fundamental play. Olson is also one of the most respected coaches in the history of college basketball. All in all, Brielmaier has had excellent mentors in his young career. One can also assume that Brielmaier joins that staff at Popovich’s recommendation, considering his relationship with Mike Brown. Anyone who has seen a single Popovich interview knows that he is an extremely forthright individual who would not recommend anyone for anything unless he felt strongly about that person’s ability to contribute in their role. Finally, Brielmaier’s youth can be both a positive and negative. While it gives him the ability to relate to a young team on a level the other coaches may not be able to, he also may have to work a bit harder to earn their respect as they may see him as more of a peer. It will be very interesting to see what role and responsibilities Mike Brown gives Bret Brielmaier this season.