Many people may not think so, but coaches definitely play a vital role in a team's success. Players win games, coaches win championships.
I look at a coach like Phil Jackson, who had superstar players, but got them all to buy into his system. To think the Lakers and Bulls weren't going anywhere until he instilled his philosophies and techniques in his players.
I think of a coach like Larry Brown, who doesn't discriminate to coaching ANY team, and by the time he leaves they will be way better than when he got there.
That is of course excluding his one year with the Nnicks, which he did a terrible job. Granted he had to deal with Stephon Marbury, but he was getting paid more than enough, and knew what he was walking into. Therefore he has to accept partial responsibility.
There are plenty of mediocre coaches who manage to slide by, but there are a few lousy ones that really stand out to me. Sometimes it's their lousy play calling, lack of plays, lack of discipline, inability to connect or communicate with their players or just being flat out unprepared.
We see P.J. Carlesimo, who after Seton Hall coached some above-average Blazer teams, got choked by Latrell Sprewell in Golden State, and screwed up in. Oklahoma City.
What kind of idiot runs a 6'9" Kevin Durant at shooting guard?
As soon as Scott Brooks took over and moved him back to the three, the Thunder haven't been half bad. Plus, even though his teammates didn't defend Sprewell's actions, they understood and knew it was coming, since P.J. has a reputation for riding his players hard verbally, which isn't effective with every player.
That's what makes a good coach ... being able to differentiate what kind of motivation every individual player needs.
The current NBA has coached getting fired left and right. Here are my top four coaches in the league who are disorganized, disrespected, or just flat out clueless.
Oddly enough, many coaches are either seasoned vets, or rookie coaches, which made it difficult to come up with a fifth. I judge a good coach by them being able to adapt to the personnel they have. A good coach improves their team, regardless of how terrible they are. Here are my top four.
To begin with, I wasn't too thrilled when Paul Silas was fired after two years of decent improvement. They hired Mike Brown who did an okay job, but I feel it was more of LeBron's game developing rather than Brown's coaching.
I equate it to like coaching Tim Duncan. Players like those don't need to be coached, or be told to play hard or a certain way. They need a coach's strategy to push them over that hump in the playoffs.
A majority of Brown's playoff success is predicated on LeBron having outrageous virtuoso like performances, I think his 48 point game in Detroit was the most dominating performance I ever seen, and that includes Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq. Amazing.
The flaws in Mike Brown's coaching really showed last year when they played Orlando. His inability to adjust his game plan and strategies really showed against a superior coach in Stan Van Gundy, even though he is less experienced.
The final straw was after Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals after LeBron hit a game winner at the buzzer. Mike Browns explanation: "Give LeBron the ball at the top, and let him go to work. Call it "hammer the nail".
Maybe that worked in the regular season. By far the stupidest thing I heard in a while. As the series wore on, I watched Lebron dribble to the hole with three to four defenders draped on him, while all his role players disappeared. Mo who? Zydrunas who?
The primary job of the coach is to have ALL his players prepared and ready to perform. Not stand around and be a "witness".
Plus him benching Ilgauskas at home last week was a scumbag move. Well at least I know he won't be around if they don't make a splash in the playoffs.
I've written countless times what a bad coach Dantoni is for the Knicks. While he changed the negativity in the locker room that resonated from the Isiah Thomas era, the players aren't developing, they're regressing.
For all his success in Phoenix, averaging 58 wins in a four year span, he never once made it to the Finals. That European speedball offense is a bunch of crap. The last thing the Knicks need is a coach who tells them to shoot in seven seconds or less.
Who puts defense last on the list of priorities. Who encourages them to take the first open shot they get, where the team is shooting 35-40 three point attempts a game. And its not even like they're shooting a high percentage.
Wilson Chandler's athleticism is being wasted as now hes shooting more threes and jumpers instead of mixing it up which made him a great piece to the puzzle.
Also, a good coach adapts to their personnel, which D'Antoni has not done. You cant replace Steve Nash with Chris Duhon. Amare Stoudemire with Al Harrington. The Knicks don't have the talent level or basketball intellect to even run his so-called system. Phoenix had success, but once they ran into teams that could play shut down defense, their weaknesses were exposed.
His inability to adjust his system to his current personnel is exposes his coaching weaknesses. I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, defense wins the games that REALLY count. Something Mikey doesn't have a clue about.
For years and years, Don Nelson has been characterized as a "players coach" with a fun up-tempo type offense.
From his years in Golden State, and "Run THC" to Dallas and grooming Dirk Nowitzki to Golden State. The theme of all his teams have been that they were soft.
That the star players on his teams were soft, undisciplined, and mainly finesse players. After all of his regular season success, his playoff success is minimal.
Also, a lot of his tactics rub his players the wrong way, especially if his teams aren't winning.
Long before the Stephen Jackson thing blew out of proportion, I remember him publicly fining him for a technical foul he got in a playoff game against Dallas, which he was totally wrong for.
I remember players like Patrick Ewing and Chris Webber complaining about his techniques, as well as Al Harrington. He gets a pass on Harrington since his track record wasn't exactly the greatest to call out a veteran coach.
His techniques might have worked in the seventies, and eighties, but in today's league, these young players need discipline and structure, which are two things that Nelson doesn't instill. And as I've said before, championships are won with DEFENSE, and not by relying on outscoring opponents. In all sports.
It pains me to put Mike Dunleavy up here, since I like him. But from his early days coaching the Lakers, to the Bucks, to the Blazers to the Clippers, he has always pretty much been a mediocre head coach.
His teams really never stood out. His strategies and plays never were able to take his players to the next level.
I look at the job he's doing with the Clippers now, and it pains me, since the Clippers have loads of talent. They just aren't being coached right.
It reminds me of Shaq and Kobe not reaching real success until Phil Jackson brought his expertise to the situation. Players win games. Coaching wins championships.
He hasn't brought that leadership to steer these players to where they need to be.
Granted, he might be off this list once Blake Griffin returns. And since Elton Brand screwed him, again he gets cut some slack. But after winning 47 games in 2006, and coming within one game of the Conference Finals, they've gone backwards.
Plus, I think the team they have now is more talented than that team. However he hasn't made it work, yet. It is the Clippers though, and he is the only Clipper coach to coach the team to a winning season in the 23 years I've watched him.
Larry Brown was the next closest, coaching them to a 41-41 record. So he gets a little credit.
However, the Clippers are running in place, and Dunleavy needs to kick them in the ass to get things moving. If he doesn't, he might get kicked in the ass himself ... on the way out the door.