The Lakers have reportedly made their top hire for Darvin Ham’s coaching staff in the form of Chris Jent of the Atlanta Hawks, according to multiple reports. Jent has been an assistant coach in the league since 2003 with the last four of those years being in Atlanta and was rumored as a candidate to join the Lakers this week.
Ham and Jent worked together for a season with the Hawks under Mike Budenholzer and have maintained a strong relationship.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 18, 2022
Sources: Lakers have hired Chris Jent as an assistant coach to be on head coach Darvin Ham’s staff.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 18, 2022
One of Jent’s significant outstanding connections to the Lakers includes, as Woj mentioned, Jent’s previous relationship with LeBron James. The two were together in Cleveland from 2006 until James left in 2010. Back then, James had plenty of praise for Jent.
Mike Malone and Chris Jent will be perfect for Ben McLemore. Love those 2 guys in Cleveland— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 28, 2013
Back in 2015, LeBron talked about his free throw shooting and specifically mentioned Jent as someone who helped him make strides in his performance at the line while in Cleveland.
“We have an unbelievable staff (in Cleveland) that voices their opinion about what I should do, what things they can do to help me get better,” James said. “I had a shooting coach years back in Chris Jent that helped my shot out a lot when he was here as an assistant coach. From there on I just kept the same routine. He helped me out a lot.”
It wasn’t just his accuracy at the stripe that Jent helped improve, as Jent actually helped reconstruct LeBron’s whole shooting motion, as detailed in a 2013 Sports Illustrated piece by Lee Jenkins.
Five years into his career, James began remaking his shot with the help of Chris Jent, then a Cleveland assistant. They focused on developing what Jent called a “calmer” shot: more on-balance, with his shooting forearm perpendicular to the floor.
After LeBron, Jent has maintained his ability as a shooting coach by helping John Collins improve his 3-pointer in Atlanta. Collins went from a 34% 3-point shooter in his first two seasons to a 38.8% shooter the last three years, including shooting 40.1% from range in the 2019-20 season.
New Lakers assistant Chris Jent was instrumental in helping John Collins become as good of a shooter as he’s developed into. Went from a non-3-point shooter at Wake Forest to being a 38 percent career 3-point shooter with the Hawks.— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) June 18, 2022
Jent will now step into Los Angeles where, theoretically, he could help the Lakers out in a number of ways. For example, having the same positive impact on Talen Horton-Tucker’s jumper that he did with Collins’ could drastically change THT’s game and how the Lakers can use him.
What’s clear, though, is the Lakers have landed someone with a wealth of experience, a relationship with James and a track record of success at the NBA level, all huge positives for Ham’s biggest hire on the staff.