There are a few coaches in the NBA who have been fired this year. Flip Saunders, Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan have all filed for unemployment. Stan Van Gundy is now at the back of the line.
Some of them deserved it. Maybe not all of them though. However there are some coaches who are inexplicably holding onto their jobs in spite of woeful performances this season.
Often we look at teams with losing records and say, “bad coaching” and then look at teams that had winning coaches and say “good coaching.”
That’s not always accurate. Chris Paul’s former coach, Monte Williams coached circles around Vinny Del Negro, Paul’s new coach, this year. The Hornets may have the top draft choice while the Clippers made it to the second round of the finals, but that’s a distinction in player differences, not coaching difference.
If you understand basketball, and if you watched the Hornets this year, this seemingly paradoxical sentence makes sense. The New Orleans Hornets played better losing than the Los Angeles Clippers did winning.
If you adjust the 66 game schedule to an 82-game schedule then the Hornets won an equivalent of 27 games this year compared to the Clippers 32 games last year—what the Clippers had with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon.
So either Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin combined are worth a meager five games or Monty Williams is a much better coach than Vinny Del Negro.
Del Negro offers little to nothing in defensive or offensive strategy and offers less than nothing in terms of player development. While with Chicago he did not develop Luol Deng or Joakim Noah. He did not even do much with Derrick Rose.
In the two years that Tom Thibodueau has taken over, all those players have blossomed and grown exponentially compared to when Del Negro was coaching.
Look at Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Pops has one player who was drafted in the lottery. Everyone else is non-lottery picks and waiver-wire pickups. Yet the Spurs are considered to be the deepest team in the league.
Why? Because of player development. When you look at all the deeper teams you see a consistent theme. Players that were not considered anything special became special.
I know it is awfully demanding to ask a coach to, well…coach…but Del Negro does not do it. It is a cruel practical joke on Clippers fans that he has been renewed instead of fired.
Another coach who should be shown the exit door is Avery Johnson.
Since becoming head coach of the New Jersey Nets he has shown what many suspected but could not prove when he coached the Dallas Mavericks. Namely, his coaching success was the byproduct of having inherited a winning team.
In the two years he has coached the New Jersey Nets he has amassed a .310 winning percentage. Can I get a booya!?
It is increasingly clear that Johnson is one of those coaches that just does little more than occupy space on the bench. This version of the Nets stunk up New Jersey. It is a good thing for them the Devils are there. Technically, the Giants are too I guess.
The Nets were 23rd in offensive rating and 28th in defensive rating. Based on their SRS (Simple Rating System that Basketball-Reference uses) they were the 28th “best” team in the league.
This is a team which boasted one of the top players in the league, Deron Williams. They mortgaged their future to try and convince him that they could win. Then they promptly went out and sucked. There is really no kind way to put it.
Now because Johnson cannot coach defense any better than he can coach offense, and he cannot coach a lick of offense, the Nets do not have a draft pick this year, they do not have a franchise player and they do not have a future.
At least they have a new stadium in Brooklyn though.
Finally, Mike Brown was hired by the Lakers this year and he showed at least, a basic grasp of defense. The Lakers were not a bad team, but they were not a great team, which is what they should have been.
Brown was to committed to letting Kobe Bryant run the show he wanted. At times, it just starts to feel like Bryant is more intent on catching Michael Jordan than he is on winning games. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t, but it feels that way at times watching Bryant endless hurl up shots.
Meanwhile the Lakers have not one, but two (count ‘em) seven-footers who can score the ball. Combined they shot the ball just 27.4 times per game to 23.0 times that Bryant shot the ball by himself.
Pau Gasol shot .501 from the field and Andrew Bynum shot .558.
Granted you cannot get all of your shots inside and there are those who want to oversimplify the game and want to put a ban on ever taking a 16-foot jump shot from now unto eternity. I do not want to make it out that somehow Bryant should not be shooting at all, and every shot should go through Bynum and Gasol.
However the offense should work more inside-out than outside-in than it was. Using Bryant to stretch the floor is one thing. Overusing Bryant at the expense of an efficient offense is another.
The ratio should be closer to 30 shots for Gasol and Bynum to 20 shots for Bryant.
The reason it is not is a flawed design in the offense. The flaw in the design of the offense is mostly that there is no design to the offense. Brown wants to make Bryant the LeBron James of Los Angeles. Give him the ball and stay out of the way.
This is the NBA, not the YMCA. Even Kobe Bryant can be stopped if there is no real system in place.
Other than those three, there might be some other coaches who are on probation this year, such as Mark Jackson or Lawrence Frank, but they have not had sufficient opportunity to succeed yet so the losing cannot be blamed on them.
Vinny Del Negro, Avery Johnson and Mike Brown though had more talent than success. They show little ability to develop players. They show a lack of aptitude on one side of the court, the other, or both. They need to be fired.
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