NBA: Head Coaches with Most to Prove Going into 2012-13 Season
The 2012-13 NBA season is an opportunity for many head coaches to prove just how valuable they are to their franchises. If they fail to do so, they will likely be jobless soon enough.
Some of these coaches’ teams are bottom-feeders in the league, while others are playoff teams who have big-time expectations. These coaches are under massive pressure to live up to such expectations because their jobs depend on it.
Each of these coaches are in a different situation, but one constant remains the same. They each have a lot to prove this season if they want to save their current situation.
Scott Skiles’ tenure in Milwaukee has been characterized by pretty consistent mediocrity. The Bucks have won more than 40 games just once during his watch, but have never won less than 31. The 2012-13 NBA season is a big one for Skiles as it is the last year of his current contract with the Bucks.
Granted, you cannot blame all of the Bucks’ problems on Skiles, but there is talent on the squad. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are one of the most lethal offensive duos in the league, and Ersan Ilyasova is another promising young player to build around.
If the Bucks miss the playoffs again, it is doubtful that it will matter whose fault it really is. Skiles will likely be gone, and one really could not fault the Bucks. If a team never really gets any better or worse, it is hard to believe the coach is having any impact on it. Skiles needs to prove that he does have a positive influence on his team.
If Mike Brown coached for any other franchise, he would be set. In his first year at his current gig, he went 41-25, made the playoffs, won the division and made it to the second round of the playoffs. But, as we all know, that is a disappointing season when you coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
Much was made of Brown’s first season in Los Angeles and the changes he made. The fact that he got through it alive is something he should be proud of in and of itself. Now, though, he has two more All-Star players to coach in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, which adds even more pressure.
Brown will always be under immense pressure in Los Angeles. The only cure is winning a title, and that will not be easy with Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Miami and Boston around. Brown needs to at least get close to winning one this season to keep his job.
Kevin McHale’s first year in Houston was characterized by major roster upheaval and rumors. He did not get along well with certain players, his team was fairly mediocre and he won just barely over half of his games. Now that the Rockets have missed out on Dwight Howard, it will be interesting to see what McHale can do this season with the young roster.
He does have James Harden, who Houston is hoping will be the star it has been looking for. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are other young players that round out the roster, which is one of the youngest in the league. That in and of itself does not bode well for McHale, as youth takes time to develop.
McHale must capitalize this season and show improvement. If it does not seem that the team is building toward anything, it makes perfect sense that he would be fired. That way, the team could bring in a new coach to develop their players before it is too late. If McHale wants to stay in Houston, he needs to at least build a winning foundation.
Mark Jackson is not in danger of losing his job, but he does have plenty to prove in his second season with the Golden State Warriors. He only won 23 games in his rookie year, and it is important that the Warriors show growth during the 2012-13 season.
The Warriors did make some key additions in the offseason including Harrison Barnes in the draft and Carl Landry in free agency. If Jackson can make these additions work along with last season’s addition of Andrew Bogut, he will earn himself even more job security moving forward.
Jackson won't have to worry about job security just yet. He has a young team that is still improving and growing; however, a year or two down the line he will be out of a job if he does not continue building his team now.
Vinny Del Negro
The Los Angeles Clippers posted a franchise-record winning percentage during the 2011-12 season after acquiring Chris Paul. Pairing him with Blake Griffin has created one of the NBA’s most dynamic duos. Vinny Del Negro is the man who coaches the Clippers, but can anyone say that he really does much?
Let’s be honest. With Paul as your point guard and veterans like Chauncey Billups on the team, you really do not need to do much coaching. That is the perception with Del Negro. He seems more like a figurehead than anything else for Los Angeles, and no franchise is going to want to pay him millions just for that.
The 2012-13 season is his opportunity to prove how much better he makes this team. If the Clippers struggle to improve or even get worse, Del Negro will not last long. He needs to find a way to show how he adds to this franchise before it is too late.