23 June 2015

2015 NBA Coaching Carousel: Grading the Hires

Five teams will enter the 2015-16 NBA season with a new coach and, interestingly enough, two of them are playoff teams and a third missed out by a game. How did these clubs make out in their coaching searches? Here's my analysis.

Chicago Bulls - Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State head coach)
I have already written at length about Hoiberg and the Bulls. As I noted then, the axing of Tom Thibodeau was not pretty and frankly classless, meaning the pressure is on Hoiberg. I have long been high on Hoiberg and I think he will be an excellent NBA coach. I also think that his much different coaching style from Thibodeau, and certainly a more imaginative offensive scheme, will be a welcome change.
Grade: A-

Denver Nuggets - Michael Malone (formerly Sacramento Kings head coach)
There is no question that Malone got screwed by the Kings. And I do think that he is a good coach and he should help fix a bad defense. However, it seemed like the Nuggets would hire a coach that would run more of an open, run-and-gun system after having some success with that after firing Brian Shaw, but Malone largely was fired because he didn't run a system like that with the Kings. Second, a new executive now with the team is Pete D'Alessandro, who was the GM of the Kings when they fired Malone. So all in all, it is a funky fit.
Grade: B-

New Orleans Pelicans - Alvin Gentry (Golden State Warriors assistant)
Like the case of Chicago hiring Hoiberg, I have already written about the Pelicans hiring Gentry. A lot of folks were under the presumption that they should have hired the aforementioned Thibodeau but I think that Gentry is a better fit for Anthony Davis, who frankly this is all about. Davis is a star and will be the kind of player that can lead you to a championship and I believe that Gentry's coaching style will work better with him than Thibodeau's would.
Grade: A-

Oklahoma City Thunder - Billy Donovan (Florida head coach)
Scott Brooks did win a lot of games with the Thunder but nobody would deny that he was far from the league's finest coach. With Kevin Durant being a free agent next offseason, this is a huge hiring so GM Sam Presti used some political capital to bring in Donovan. Donovan was one of the elite coaches in the college game and he is known for adjusting his schemes to his talent while being able to get the most out of his players. His Florida teams excelled on both sides of the court. The pressure will be very high on Donovan but I think this is a very good hire.
Grade: A-

Orlando Magic - Scott Skiles (formerly Milwaukee Bucks head coach)
Hiring a coach like Skiles insinuates, at least to me, that the Magic are interesting in speeding up their rebuilding process and winning now. After all, Skiles's track record is that he improves his teams quickly in his tenure but ultimately in a few years, he wears out his welcome and moves on. Skiles has a built-in cache being one of the first big-name players in franchise history and is a good coach but I am not sold if he is the best fit for this team at this time.
Grade: C+

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