As always, there was plenty of action on the NBA head coaching carousel this offseason. Let’s take a look at the prospects of those coaches who are new to their current jobs.
LUKE WALTON – LA LAKERS
He certainly did a terrific job with the defending champion Warriors when Steve Kerr was sidelined, but coaching the dysfunctional Lakers is a totally different situation. At best, Walton can begin the process of moving the Lakers to the threshold of mediocrity.
KENNY ATKINSON – BROOKLYN
The Nets’ corporate decision to make Jeremy Lin the face of the franchise has more to do with attracting media and fan attention than it has to do with Lin’s abilities. Indeed, he was a star with the Knicks only until opponents got wise to the glaring holes in Lin’s game, i.e., his weak left hand, poor defense, turnover-prone handle, trouble finishing and shaky shooting. By being forced to make an all-out commitment to Lin, Atkinson is in a lose-lose situation.
MIKE D’ANTONI – HOUSTON
The only time his quick-shot offense worked was when Steve Nash was the trigger-man. Whereas Nash only shot when he had to, James Harden will shoot-first-and-never-ask-questions. Also, Harden lacks Nash’s court vision, impeccable decision-making, speed, quickness and now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t handle. Furthermore, the Rockets don’t have as many reliable three-point shooters as D’Antoni’s glittering (but not golden) game plan necessitates. If Houston will play entertaining basketball, as the season progresses and Harden’s turnovers mount up, they will be routinely trounced by the several elite teams in the Western Conference.
DAVID FIZDALE – MEMPHIS
In his first head coaching job, Fizdale will succeed if he can avoid Dave Joerger’s primary failing — “allowing” Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Mike Conley to suffer serious injuries.
DAVE JOERGER – SACRAMENTO
If DeMarcus Cousins’ Olympic experience hasn’t turned him into a grown-up, then Joerger and the Kings are doomed.
SCOTT BROOKS – WASHINGTON
In Oklahoma City, Brooks’ game plan demonstrated a consistent lack of imagination. Perhaps John Wall and Bradley Beal can inspire him in ways that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant never did.
NATE MCMILLAN – INDIANA
Whatever else might transpire in Indiana, McMillan’s players will be tough and well prepared.
JEFF HORNACEK – NEW YORK
The triangle may flatline, and the disabled list might become crowded, but Hornacek will induce the surviving Knicks to play hard and play right.
TOM THIBODEAU – MINNESOTA
Expect the young T-Wolves to play ferocious defense and achieve several surprising upsets. However, the team’s overall development will be hindered as long as Thibodeau has to depend on Ricky Rubio to run the offense.
FRANK VOGEL – ORLANDO
Last season, Vogel certainly coaxed the best out of a flawed Pacers roster. Only two seasons removed from having coached the Pacers into their second consecutive conference finals, Vogel’s new squad is even more flawed. The Magic must still bottom-out before Vogel can have them on the rise.