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Thread: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

  1. #1

    Default Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    http://howtowatchsports.com/2010/01/...lly-worthless/

    Alex McVeigh, How To Watch Sports

    The NBA coach is one of the more tenuous positions in the professional sports world. Every sport has their legendary coaches, but in basketball the legendary coaches seem to bounce around more than most.
    Sure, thereís your Jerry Sloans and your Gregg Popovichs who stay with their team for extended periods of time, but coaches move on quite regularly. There have been 236 coaching changes in the league since Jerry Sloan was hired in 1988, or an average of 8 per team.
    And thatís why Iím here to let you in on a little secret: coaches are essentially useless.
    Donít believe me? Well then take a look at this little tidbit: Before Mike Brown won the NBA Coach of the Year award last year, only Gregg Popovich, winner in 2003, is still with his team.
    Except for Hubie Brown, who left the Grizzlies because of health reasons, each one of the last eight winners was fired within a year or two of earning that award.
    Why is that? Because itís the players who make the team. Mike Brown is an absolutely terrible coach. And I mean terrible. The man couldnít draw up an offensive play to save his life.
    But heís been blessed with LeBron James, who took him to the Finals and won him the Coach of the Year award.
    Now, when I say coaches are essentially useless, there are of course exceptions to that. They are useful in that you have to have a coach, if not to just have an older gentleman (or woman, someday) whom everyone can agree has the final say on basketball matters.
    There are only certain coaches who have an impact that is better to or equal than good players.
    Phil Jackson is clearly one of those. The man just wins rings.
    Now, the cynic in me says that Phil certainly knows a good thing when heís got it. After all, he only had the best player of all time for six of those rings, and he had the most dominant center of the decade in his prime for three of them, and then he had Kobe at the absolute peak of his powers for the tenth one.
    One could say that Jackson never won a title without at least two Hall-of-Famers (Iím guessing Gasol gets in). But then again, almost every championship team has one, unless youíre Larry Brown in 2004 with the Pistons.
    But clearly, itís not just about that.
    Jackson, while not an Xís and Oís guy, is a successful coach because of his personality. Much has been made about his relationship with Michael Jordan and his ability to motivate the troops.
    And who doesnít like Phil Jackson? He looks like an old hippie uncle of yours, one that probably has great stories about Woodstock, but also clearheaded and smart enough to give you great advice.
    Much has been made of his controversial motivational techniques, such as comparing Rick Adelman (then coaching the Sacramento Kings) to Hitler, or Jason Williams to Edward Norton from ďAmerican History XĒ.
    Whatever the means, the ends speak for themselves, as Jackson can put a ring on each finger of both hands.
    Gregg Popovich is another difference maker. With a military background that includes the Air Force and possibly some Cold War espionage in Russia (or so the rumor goes), he is a notoriously hard coach to play for, but like Jackson, the results speak for themselves.
    He is known to be especially hard on point guards, as Tony Parker can surely attest. During the Spursí 2007 title run, stories would emerge about Popovich getting all over Parker like stink on a monkey.
    Popovich initially wanted to turn Parker into a Popovich clone, which Parker clearly isnít meant for. Iím sure it was tough getting him out of that mold, but Parker has even admitted publicly that as tough as Pop was on him, it made him a better player.
    Popovich is the rare coach who seems to have an eye for talent as well as skill in both motivation and Xís and Oís. He was the one who found Parker, and he scouted players like Roger Mason, Jr. and DeJuan Blair.
    Given his relationship with Spursí GM R.C. Buford (Buford was hired by Pop in 1994 to be the head scout for the team), they form a duo that is probably the best evaluators of personnel in the league.
    Pop also has that famously dry sense of humor, which seems to appeal to players more than bluster or volume.
    Other than those two, and of course a few coaches throughout NBA history, itís safe to say that coaches are essentially useless.
    I mentioned Mike Brown, and Doc Rivers is another one. He was known as a lame duck coach until Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came, and all of a sudden heís a champion.
    Now, I said coaches are ďessentiallyĒ useless, that is, without talent around them, they canít do anything. The best coaches find the talent to put there, but not every coach has that much trust from his owner/GM.
    But there are things that coaches can do to help their team, while theyíre not the kind of things that win championships, they do help their team to a certain extent.
    Timeouts are crucial. A good coach knows when to call them, and when not to call them. If the other team is in the midst of a run, the coach needs to call the timeout, particularly if the home crowd is starting to get fired up.
    Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is good at doing just that. If the other team is creeping up on the Mavs, or the home crowd is starting to get fired up, Carlisle knows the best place to take a timeout to stop the bleeding.
    As a former player, he seems to have more of a sense about when the momentum is starting to shift out of the Mavericksí favor, and he takes his timeout to do that.
    Thatís something that canít really be taught, and former players turned coaches seem to be more in tune to those subtle swings of emotion than non-players.
    Coaches can also help their teams in terms of substitutions. When a player, particularly a low-post player gets into foul trouble, the coach has to make a call to pull the player out, saving them for later, but also putting a backup big man in for extended minutes.
    Dwight Howard is a player that Stan Van Gundy wants on the floor as much as possible, but as a center, he can get into foul trouble. Van Gundy is lucky in that he has Marcin Gortat to back Howard up, but without a valuable backup, the dropoff from someone like Howard to a normal backup center is pretty steep.
    Itís such a fine line between keeping players on the court, but also out of foul trouble, and itís sort of a thankless job in that respect, because if your team wins, no one notices, but the second guessing always comes after a loss.
    Mike Dunleavy Sr., easily the worst coach in the NBA, is terrible in both of those respects. He has a knack for taking timeouts several possessions too late, which hurts his team in a lot of ways. He also tends to put ice-cold players in at clutch times, like bringing in a guy for the first time on a late possession, and drawing a play up for him.
    The Clippers clearly have talent on their team, but a coach like Mike Dunleavy shows us the number one impact that coaches can have on their teams: they screw the team up.
    When it comes to coaching, they tend to do more harm than good. You donít particularly hear about good coaching performances, because a coachís job is to not screw up. If theyíve done their job right, they stay well out of the spotlight. Usually a coach only gets discussed when they blow the game.
    Theyíre like NFL placekickers. They just come out and do their job. The ones you remember, like Scott Norwood or Ray Finkle-turned-Lois Einhorn, always get remembered for missing big kicksóor becoming a woman and heading up the police force in Miami.
    First let me start off by saying that this is NOT meant to be a Jim OíBrien thread.
    Something that I struggle to understand is the coaching differences in the NBA and NFL. Why it is that NBA coaches are hired much quicker than NFL coaches? Is it because of the longer season? Guaranteed contracts so the players canít take the blame but the coaches do? The fact that there are only 15 players on a basketball team compared to 50+ on a football team?

    You look at Lawrence Frank last year. The guy is known as a pretty good coach and respected by his players. Yet he was blamed for the Nets awful start last year. The Nets had an awful team and didnít really look any better after they fired coach Frank, IMO. Yet Coach Frank took the blame. You look at the NFL and those coaches are given a lot more time to turn things around.

    Think about Mike Brown. Highly regarded as an assistant coach in San Antonio and Indiana. He goes to Cleveland as the head coach and while he is successful he gets fired because his team never won it all. Let me tell you those Cavs teams were never that good outside of Lebron. You still hear Coach Brown get criticized. Was it really his fault?

    Then you have the famous COY curse in the NBA. Win coach of the year and get fired the following season. Now those coaches obviously did some things right to win COY. They showed they could coach. So what happened?

    Take Doc Rivers for example. He won coach of the year with the Magic but was fired a few years later due to a poor start. He did ok with the Magic staying above .500 which was about all you could expect with those teams. He gets fired and goes to Boston. Didnít do much there until they brought in KG and Ray Allen. He wins a championship and adds another NBA Finals appearance to his resume. He proved he can be a good coach.

    Now you look at Erik Spoelstra. He was highly regarded as an assistant coach and he did pretty good his first two years with the Heat. Now he has all those stars and people expect them to blow teams out of the water. Now they can win a championship based on their talent level but it will be difficult because as a team they lack some things that you needÖsize and chemistry. Coach Spoelstra has been criticized now for some of the Heatís losses which maybe he deserves some but I think you have to put more of the blame on the players or Pat Riley who assembled them. I mean Joel Anthony, the $15 MILLION dollar centerÖcome on. With that said they can defiantly still win the championship this year

    This is a talent driven league. The coaches, most of them, do not choose the players. Thatís the job of the GMs. You can only use what you have. If you donít have the talent and intangibles you wonít win a lot in the NBA.

    With guaranteed player contracts and GMs not wanting to admit that itís their fault/the players fault that they lose the coaches end up getting fired. I hope that the new CBA fixes some of this. Itís unfair to a lot of the head coaches IMO.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    A good GM is more important than a good head coach.

    Talent wins, coaches more or less just motivate and then stay out of the way. Its true for multiple sports.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    I think coaches are hugely important. Talent, experience, player chemistry wins in the end, but coaches do not just roll the balls out or just stay or get out of the way.

    If Phil Jackson going to take the Clippers to a 60 win team of course not, but they would be better with Jackson as their coach.

    Some teams, some groups of players are more open to coaching. But I think the impact Jerry Sloan has on the Jazz and the way he always gets his teams every year to execute the offense proves what a great coach he is.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Yeah sure they do some good things. Especially with getting a system in place during the offseason. They can call timeouts and draw up plays in-game. But in the grand scheme of things their value is largely overrated.

    And on the flip side they shoulder an unproportional amount of the blame as well. Its just human nature for people to point to one guy and say he's why they're good/bad.

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Without good coaching, the assembled talent cannot maximize its performance either as individuals or in the team concept, and ultimately will fail to win as many games as a result. Also, good coaching can attract better talent sometimes because the players beleive they have a better chance to win.

    If good coaching didn't matter, NBA and college coaches would not make nearly the money they do, and coaches overall would hold onto their jobs longer than they ordinarily do because changing coaches for the most part would be a waste of time and effort on the part of the franchises or schools involved.

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    There is a reason why Phil Jackson has won 10 Championships

    and the reason is NOT just because he had MJ and Kobe/Shaq
    Sittin on top of the world!

  8. #7

    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    As far as money goes, perceived market value does not make an argument. Like I said earlier, its human nature to pick out a person responsible for why a team is good or bad. Thats why coaches are consistently on the hot seat. We have to blame a person, which there are some good articles out there and how it ties into our culture but differently in others.

    I digress, yes coaches help. Thats not the question, the article made several caveats to this effect. Its just that what they do provide is often easily replaceable, outside of a very small # of coaches.

    GM's and players are just more valuable.

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    If they are like JOB yes .................

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by vnzla81 View Post
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    If they are like JOB yes .................
    who would win in a fight between you and Obie?
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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sNBARocked View Post
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    There is a reason why Phil Jackson has won 10 Championships

    and the reason is NOT just because he had MJ and Kobe/Shaq
    Now, when I say coaches are essentially useless, there are of course exceptions to that.
    There are only certain coaches who have an impact that is better to or equal than good players.
    Phil Jackson is clearly one of those. The man just wins rings.
    Everyone raise their hand who actually read the article.

    The author with all of his cynicism admits quite frequently that there are some elite coaches who are an exception.

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sNBARocked View Post
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    who would win in a fight between you and Obie?
    if we're talking about vnzla coaching the team for a few games he'd probably win more games than obrien
    In 49 states it's just basketball, but this is Indiana!

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scot Pollard View Post
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    if we're talking about vnzla coaching the team for a few games he'd probably win more games than obrien
    LOL

    Yeah but he would get T'd up at the first bad call , then T'd up at the second and get tossed

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    First, I want to say that this is a very poorly written article. The guy makes a pretty bold statement and doesn't really provide anything to back it up other than the guy who wins COY gets fired, and Phil and Pop win a lot so they're not useless.

    If anything, I think coaches are underrated actually.

    Sure, players ultimately decide how the game goes because they are the ones on the court with the ball in their hands. If the player can't make a shot, that's on the player. If the player can't miss, that's the player.

    But, the coach controls the tempo of the game, the flow of the offense, the type of defense, the substitutions, and timeouts. Most importantly, the coach controls the PRACTICES!

    Games and championships are not only won within the 48 minutes that the clock is running. Successful teams put in the work IN PRACTICE to have the skill, the chemistry, and the understanding of what to do on the court. Coaches who run a good practice are then able to sit on the sideline and look like they are unimportant because they've coached their team in practice.

    Then you have coaches like Larry Brown who draw up great in-bound plays. Jackson who develops an offensive system that can't be stopped when he has the talent to fill in the positions. Pop who controls the tempo of a game, knowing when to run and when to slow it down -- not to mention the defense he coaches. Sloan gets more out of less EVERY year. Carlisle does too.

    NFL coaches are more hands-on during the game than NBA coaches, and I think that's what gives this perception. But I don't think I could disagree more with it.

    --pizza
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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sNBARocked View Post
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    There is a reason why Phil Jackson has won 10 Championships

    and the reason is NOT just because he had MJ and Kobe/Shaq
    Of course not. He also had Pippen and Gasol.

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shade View Post
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    Of course not. He also had Pippen and Gasol.
    Still do you think someone like Jay Triano, Jim O'Brien or Dick Versace woudl win with those exact same squads
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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sNBARocked View Post
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    Still do you think someone like Jay Triano, Jim O'Brien or Dick Versace woudl win with those exact same squads
    Hard to say. Has any coach who won a championship ever been considered a bad coach at any point afterward?

    Also remember that Phil's 2004 Lakers paper juggernaut was derailed, easily, in the Finals.

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    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sNBARocked View Post
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    Still do you think someone like Jay Triano, Jim O'Brien or Dick Versace woudl win with those exact same squads
    Do you think JOB would? I don't. Unless the players didn't listen to a word he said maybe they'd win.

  22. #18

    Default Re: Are NBA Coaches Worthless?

    Phil Jackson coached a team with Kobe and Odom to 42 wins and a quick 1st round exit.

    Mike Dunleavy won 59 games and took a Phil Jackson's team with Shaq+Kobe+elite role-players to a 7th game in the conference finals with a team featuring a 35 years old Pippen, a gimp in Sabonis, Steve Smith, a very young Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudemire and Bonzi Wells.

    And he coached the Clippers to 50 wins and the 2nd round. What screwed up the team were the Cassell + Livingston injuries first, Elton Brand injury next + his work as a GM, not as a coach.

    Popovich is the rare coach who seems to have an eye for talent as well as skill in both motivation and Xís and Oís. He was the one who found Parker, and he scouted players like Roger Mason, Jr
    If it wasn't for RC Bufford, the Spurs wouldn't have drafted Parker. Roger Mason Jr.?

    Popovich never coached a bad team his entire coaching career. He fired a coach with a 75% winning record and added Tim Duncan to the team he inherited.

    Timeouts are crucial. A good coach knows when to call them, and when not to call them. If the other team is in the midst of a run, the coach needs to call the timeout, particularly if the home crowd is starting to get fired up.
    Many coaches disagree with this. Notably Phil Jackson.

    ---------------

    I'm not a buyer of the "exceptions" theory at all. There are coaches who are better than others (the differences between NBA coaches are pretty small though) and I actually rate Jackson and Pop as two of the best, but there's a continuum. They aren't that much better than the other coaches, not even sure they're the best coaches, I don't think they are. It's a murky picture.

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