New NBA Coaches: How Will They Impact Your Fantasy Team?

John LorgeSenior Writer IOctober 30, 2008

This year there were eight coaching changes in the NBA.  The Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Bobcats, Heat, Suns, and Mavericks all have a new face leading their teams. 

Should you be worried if you own a player on these teams?  Should you be excited?

Last season there were also eight coaching changes in the NBA.  The Grizzlies, Rockets, Kings, Sonics/Thunder, Timberwolves, Magic, and Pacers all hired new coaches.

A lot can change with a new coach.  They play with new rotations and try players in new roles.  The offensive and defensive philosophies of the team will change, which affect tempo, style of play, and ultimately production. 

What have we seen from the past to help predict what we will see this season and in future seasons? 

What do we already know about these coaches in new places that we can trust as indicators?

Last Season's Changes

Indiana Pacers

In the 2006-07 season, the Indiana Pacers averaged 95.6 points per game as a team under Rick Carlisle.  Danny Granger played 82 games in his second season, averaging 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.  Mike Dunleavey, who was acquired in a mid-season trade from Golden State, played 43 games with the Pacers, averaging 14.0 points per game and shooting 28.3 percent from behind the arc.

Coach Carlisle did not make the playoffs for the first time in his career, and the Pacers felt it was time to inject the franchise with new blood. 

Jim O'Brien did not lead the team to a winning season in 2007-08, but he did increase the team's scoring average to 104.0 points per game.  Granger has blossomed under O'Brien, averaging 19.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from three in 423 attempts.  In his sixth season, Dunleavy posted career numbers in points, assists, free throw percentage, three-point percentage and field goal percentage. 

Thanks to this coaching change, the Pacers produced two of last seasons most efficient and productive fantasy players, and Granger is off to a great start this year.

Houston Rockets

Adelman hardly got a chance to break out his golf clubs after his stint with the Kings before he was headed to Houston to take over for Jeff Van Gundy. 

The team's overall production didn’t change much, but stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming did notice a drop in offensive production.  In the 2006-07 season, the injury plagued duo combined to play 119 games and their combined scoring average was 49.6 points per game.  In the 2007-08 season Yao and T-Mac played 121 games with a combine scoring average of 43.6 points per game.

With the addition of Ron Artest and Brent Barry, I would try to unload these often injured players if you can get good value in return. They will most likely never get back to their Van Gundy numbers.

Orlando Magic

The Magic took the Southeast Division crown with an impressive 52-30 record.  The Magic's front office made a plethora of great moves before the season, starting with the hiring of Stan Van Gundy to replace Brian Hill.  The Magic improved their scoring average from 94.8 to 104.5 points per game last season and made 459 more threes than in the 2006-07 season. 

Part of this success was due to the additions of Rashard Lewis and Maurice Evans as well as the subtraction of Darko Milicic.  Let’s not undermine Van Gundy's impact however; Hedo Turkoglu, a career 11.8 point, 4.1 rebound, and 2.5 assist per game player was the NBA's Most Improved Player.  Turkoglu posted 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game on his way to earning the award and he sunk a career-high 166 threes.

This Season's Changes

New York Knicks

There has been a lot said about Mike D'Antoni moving to NY, but from a fantasy perspective, owners should be ecstatic. 

The Knicks averaged 96.9 points per game playing in the Isaiah Thomas circus.  In their first game of the 2008-09 season the team scored 120 points, a feat they accomplished only once last year.  D'Antoni averaged over 110 points per game for each of the past two seasons in Phoenix, and he is only beginning to perfect his offensive scheme as a coach.

Put a buy on the entire Knicks roster—yes, even Zach Randolph.  Jamal Crawford will take what he learned from his mentor, Thomas, and apply it in this high-octane offense.  David Lee is starting and is one of the most efficient players in NBA.  In deep leagues Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson are viable options, and Quentin Richardson could have his best season since the head-banging Clipper days.

Phoenix Suns

Oh no, Mike D'Antoni is gone, sell, sell, se... HOLD THAT THOUGHT!  Would it really be in new head coach Terry Porter's best interest to scrap the offense that his players are accustomed to and have been successful under?  Sure some things will change; the Suns will clamp down on D harder and focus less on quick shots, but this is still a team that will score to win. 

Speaking of winning, in their first game against the San Antonio Spurs this season, Porter and the Suns scored 103 points on their way to one.  The Spurs gave up an average of only 90.6 points per game last year and didn't give up that many to Phoenix in four regular season meetings.

Matt Barnes and Grant Hill will split time this year so those are too guys you may want to avoid, but other than that Shaq, Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Leandro Barbosa are all off to productive fantasy years under the former all-star point guard.

Dallas Mavericks

Although Avery Johnson had success in Dallas, with a very talented roster might I add, he was a roller coaster ride of a coach.  Now under Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban has brought a consistent leader to the Mavericks.  There will be a new focus on defense and ball control in Dallas, which could be a good thing for the team, but scares fantasy owners. 

This is the coaching move I am most unsure about.  Can the Mavericks continue to average 100 plus points per game, something no Carlisle coached team has ever done?  I am inclined to say no. 

Jason Kidd averaged 9.5 assists per game and shot 42.6 percent last season when he came to the team, and I wouldn't expect his numbers to take a hit.  I would expect the point declination to come from Josh Howard and Jason Terry's numbers, but I wouldn't worry about Dirk Nowitzki.

Detroit Pistons

Michael Curry knows the game of basketball, but has had very limited experience coaching it.  As former NBA VP of Player Development, you can expect Curry to be a good mentor to his young players, and he is lucky to have veterans like Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Chauncey Billups who have won a championship.  Curry was an assistant to Flip Saunders and the team's focus should still remain on defense and quality opportunities on offense. 

Curry was victorious in his first game and limited the minutes of his aging stars.  You know what you'll get from the Pistons' players and don't expect anything more.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA and first time head coach Vinny Del Negro has the added pressure of coaching the No. 1 pick of the draft.  Del Negro is best known as the sharp-shooting wing from the Spurs, but he knows a thing or two about managing players, as he served under Steve Kerr as Assistant GM for the Suns last year.

This season Del Negro is using a lineup that nobody predicted.  In the first game of the season he started Derrick Rose, Thabo Sefolosha, Drew Gooden, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas.  This leaves Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich coming off the bench, where they seem to be comfortable.  On any given night it seems starting a Bull could be risky. Gordon will always fill it up, but if you are averse to risk I would look elsewhere.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks picked up a very capable coach in Scott Skiles, who took the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference Semifinals before he was fired during the 2007-08 season.  The Bucks lost Mo Williams, but traded for Richard Jefferson, giving Michael Redd a slashing wingman to deflect defensive pressure. 

Many fantasy owners expect big things from Andrew Bogut and Jefferson this season, which may mean reduced production for Gold Medalist Michael Redd.  The Bucks have also brought in Luke Ridenour to run the show and in two games Skiles hasn't played fantasy-sleeper Ramon Sessions. 

Miami Heat

Although a little known name, Erik Spoelstra has been with the Miami Heat organization since 1995.  The league's youngest coach has a young, athletic, and exciting team on his hands. 

The Heat are top-heavy in the way of fantasy players.  Owners of Dwayne Wade and Shawn Marion should be licking their chops, as they will be required to will the team through most games.  Rookie Michael Beasley played 20 minutes in his first game and will get his chances to learn and grow.  The Heat still need some help; keep your eyes on Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, and Shaun Livingston as the season progresses.

Charlotte Bobcats

Fantasy owners loved the Bobcats last season.  Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson were given the green light to shoot the team in and out of every game.  Wallace had a career high in points and Richardson led the NBA in threes made.  That is something new coach Larry Brown wants to change.  Brown is aware of Richardson's abilities as a player and wants him to attack the rim more, so he can go to the line more. 

Brown is a very defensive minded coach, and through D, he has been successful with some untalented teams.  I wouldn't expect Brown to butt heads with his stars, but his style of play will put a damper on their numbers.


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