Hopla helping Knicks' shooting consistency

While Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni have helped their teammates get open looks, Dave Hopla has helped the guys knock down shots.

The Knicks' new shooting coach, whose website says he routinely hits 495 out of 500 jumpers, has been earning rave reviews from the players. The Knicks' accuracy has improved, leading to their first 3-0 start since the 1999-2000 season.

The team is shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range -- their 43 makes through three games is the most in NBA history -- and 82.7 percent from the foul line, including 19-for-19 Monday night. As a result, they're winning by an average of 19.3 points.

"(Dave's) been incredible," Chris Copeland told ESPNNewYork.com.

After hooping at Chadron (Neb.) State College in the 1970s, Hopla played overseas in Europe and South America for seven years. During that time, he would return to the states to host camps for shooting, a craft he learned as a teen from famed Philly-based coach Herb Magee.

Then in 1987, Hopla started teaching shooting fundamentals full-time at all levels -- from kids to Nike-sponsored events to Fortune 500 companies to elite NBA players, including Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen.

Since 2006, the 54-year-old has made his mark in the league, as the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards capitalized on his services by improving their shooting percentages.

It came as no surprise when the Knicks hired Hopla, based on their poor shooting numbers last season. With the Knicks in win-now mode, they've taken additional steps to hire specialized help, from Hakeem Olajuwon for low-post scoring to now Hopla for shooting.

"He's put a lot of time in," Mike Woodson said. "He shoots the ball extremely well, so when you've got your coach making shots, you damn sure better make them."

In 2005, Hopla says he hit 35,332 out of 35,979 shots (98.2 percent), and this past summer, he set a world record by sinking 18 straight 3-pointers in one minute during a clinic in Portugal.

"You've got to have good mechanics," Felton said. "He's been in our ear off and on all the time, 'Keep your left hand up, hold your follow through.' Just little things that you may not think help, but they really do."

Hopla's emphasizes an acronym called "BEEF" (Balance Elbow Eyes Follow), and shooting repetition in order to get a player to develop muscle memory. That's what makes Steve Novak so good, and Ronnie Brewer is trying to fine-tune that.

"He allows you to get your rhythm, your confidence back in your shot," said Brewer, who tied his career-high for most 3s in a game (three) Monday night. "And, to me, basketball's all about confidence and rhythm, and whenever you get your rhythm and get your confidence, the sky's the limit."

"He's a great motivator, man, especially when you're out there shooting the basketball," Carmelo Anthony said. "He's very positive, always going to tell you about your mechanics and what you're doing wrong. So his main thing is just consistency, doing the same thing over and over again."

Through three games, that's been working.

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