Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Don't you worry about Planet Express, let me worry about Blank.
Photo Credit AP-Rusty Kennedy
Jeff Van Gundy is out; Rick Adelman is in.
I know I'm the kind of guy who denigrates "clutchness" and "intangibles", but simply put, it seems to be an exchange of two style with two coaches who have never been able to take their team over the hump.
Rockets fans are excited for the end of the Van Gundy era. Nobody liked watching his boring grind-it-out 90's Knicks style of basketball. Adelman brings the stylistic change, but, as much as I hate to boil it down to one thing; Van Gundy and Adelman own a grand total of 0 rings. Van Gundy choked away a 2-0 lead in the first round each of the last two years, Adelman presided over two of the great small city dynasties of the past 20 years, the early 90's Blazers and the early 00's Kings, and could never lead them past Jordan or Shaq.
Van Gundy's career winning percentage is .575, Adelman's is .610. Van Gundy's playoff winning percentage is .506, Adelman's is .507.
How much of this is the coach and how much of it is the players? I have never seen the coach as all that important in terms of team success, at least at the professional level, where the most terrible coaches have obviously been weeded out. I think your main goal as a coach is to not to screw up, and I also believe that there are a few very special coaches that make things better. In the NBA I might limit that list to Phil Jackson, Larry Brown when he gave a damn, and maybe Popovich. I guess you can throw in youthful Pat Riley, although I wouldn't do that now.
Stylistically, Adelman has never run a team that finished out of the Top 10 in Pace Factor, a stat designed to show how many possessions per game a team averages. How he's able to integrate Yao into this system is going to be the key factor for success. McGrady and Battier can run, Alston and Head might actually become better players when they run (less time for them to carelessly turn the ball over), but for Yao it may be an adjustment as Van Gundy has always used him in the box, and he's had problems with fatigue in the past.
That said, we can talk about offensive philosophy all we want, but all the Rockets did was exchange one high-tenured adequate coach for another. It's not the worst thing in the world; we could have hired someone completely incompetent. But it's not news that really matters.