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Shooting coach Dave Hopla works with Darius Songaila #9 of the Washington Wizards before game against the San Antonio Spurs at the Verizon Center February 6, 2008 in Washington, DC. Dave Hopla.

The New Knicks Shooting Coach Is Very Good at Shooting

The Knicks were not a good shooting team last season: 19th in the league in overall field goal percentage, 21st in three-point shooting, and 22nd at the free throw line. Their chief resource for improving those percentages, shooting coach Phil Weber, departed with the Mike D'Antoni regime, leaving the Knicks to call on assistant general manager Allan Houston whenever a player needed help with his shot. Now they've made a new hire for shooting help, and the guy they got just might be the best shooter on the planet.

Meet Dave Hopla, a "shooting instructor," motivational speaker, and former employee of the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. Hopla doesn't have much noteworthy experience actually playing basketball, but he can shoot the shit out of that ball. Since this news broke yesterday, I've heard several personal anecdotes about Hopla giving hour-long speeches at summer camps whilst shooting and sinking several hundred three-pointers. On his website, Hopla — who tracks every shot he takes — claims to "regularly knock down 495 out of 500 shots." In 2007, he drained 11,093 of the 11,183 shots he attempted while on the camp circuit. That's absolutely absurd, but you can see from videos like this one — in which Hopla breaks his own world record for NBA three-pointers hit in a minute with one ball and one passer — that he's not messing around:

The man is a machine (he owns the free throw record, too), and one hopes he can share his gift with some of the less consistent shooters on the Knicks (though the loss of Landry Fields alone should improve their team free throw percentage somewhat. Seriously). Even if he doesn't have much of an effect, the prospect of a shooting contest between Hopla and Steve Novak is enticing enough to make this addition worthwhile.

Incidentally, Hopla is not expected to be a regular, bench-dwelling assistant coach, which means the Knicks are still looking to replace Kenny Atkinson on Mike Woodson's staff. LaSalle Thompson, Woodson's old teammate, remains the top candidate for that position even though he can't hit 495 out of 500 shots.

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Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty