Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Flip Saunders Is More Than Competent, Doug Collins Isn't, And John Paxson May Not Be

Flip Saunders has coached a bunch of teams that all lost playoff series, many in the first round. I know. I'm aware. I've heard about it. It's not a secret. The flummoxing thing is Flip actually gave his teams a great shot at winning in the playoffs. He played his best players (for the most part), his teams scored and defended efficiently (balance is a championship team trademark, dear keepers of cliche), and got out of the way (at least it seems like he did). That's not an attempt to gloss over flaws, but a bunch of vague anecdotes about non-adjustments are hard to swallow when my most recent memories of Flip lack wrongdoing on his end.

I suppose it's tough to build a reputation as a good coach when it doesn't appear that one is actually coaching. Larry Brown, Avery Johnson, Scott Skiles, and Doug Collins all have their own cute ways of saying, "I'm in charge." From wacky rotations, to playing garbage veterans over younger, more productive players, to asserting themselves in the media at the expense of their players. That's coaching goddammit! The results are usually unfortunate; a -10 from Adrian Griffin here; a roster who can't stand them resulting in a disastrous season there. I haven't followed Flip's career closely enough to say he'll never facetiously award Deng a medical degree in front of the dull, red lights of digital recorders, and the leering losers who cover the Bulls profeshunally, but I'll accept that risk.

Doug Collins hasn't coached a team in 10 years. And before you say, "He coached the Wiz in the early aughts, not fair," consider it a good thing that I'm not holding thousands of Jordan back rubs, and molding Kwame Brown into something less useless than he really was against Doug. I consider those Wiz days a quarter-notch closer to the court than broadcasting, but just like you and me, Doug's been watching games for a long time. The dignified version of Doug's resume consists of a few 3 season long coaching gigs that started with promise, but ended rather gruesomely, leaving a handful of players wearing jars of Doug's tears around their necks. Ick.

Maximum disappointment will set in if the coaching search boils down to who Jerry Reinsdorf recognizes on the phone without an introduction, and John Paxson's duly diligent search stops short of the most appealing name available. A situation where Flip has no interest in coaching in 2008-09 is understandable, but nothing suggests that's the case. It might be time for Pax to hang up his blue jeans, or at least it's time for me to say it, if things pan out as poorly as they appear to be panning out.

There is still hope for next season. There is Tyrus Thomas. Who will be shopped.


Anonymous Fan From Far said...

I don't know how Doug Collins would do but Flip Saunders? Man, you gotta be kidding. He really screw up with Detroit! No good for us, man... However I would not mind getting 'Sheed - it's risky but if it works we will be fine!

10:31 PM  
Anonymous bullshooter said...

Could we get a better explanation about why Saunders gets credit for playing his best players? After KG, did it really make that much difference who he played in MN, it wasn't like they were loaded and had a deep bench. And in Detroit, the starting five and bench was pretty much set. And when didn't Collins do that?

11:09 PM  
Blogger Hot Shit College Student said...

Flip gets credit because he played his best (and young) players without a lengthy proving period in Minnesota. Wally World had over 50 starts and 2000 minutes his rookie year, Rasho was turned into something useful and played effectively, and Marbury started 64 games in his rookie season. Flip also worked in guys like Stuckey and Maxiell over older bench players.

It wasn't just playing the best players, it was playing the best players even if they weren't veterans. It seems like the genius strategy the Bulls have been missing under Skiles.

Doug Collins doesn't have a Skiles-esque history of playing crappy veterans over more productive, younger players, but he doesn't have experience with a developing team. The fear is Doug will sit and forget about players that don't fit a half court system, and that's a very dangerous move for a coach who won't be around very long.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous JoeJoe said...

Please stop talking about Flip you mention his name every post on Blogabull.

The same Flip Saunders who didn't play Rodney Stuckey enough? Or Jason Maxiell?

Yeah Joe Dumars fired him so if that doesn't tell you something I don't know what else can.

HSCS I never had much respect for your smarmy comments but I have lost all respect for your thoughts on NBA basketball.

You're fired!!!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Hot Shit College Student said...

I guess I'll pack up my things and go.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Hot Shit College Student said...

And I would appreciate a counterpoint, but just saying Flip's name like it means something doesn't do any good.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Bullshooter said...

I have a hard time giving Saunders credit for playing those guys because there weren't really any viable alternatives. I'm not sure, but I seem to recall Collins played a large role in the development of Pippen and Grant, who turned out better than pretty much anybody Saunders coached other than KG. But it didn't take Collins 7 years to get them to the conference finals. So I feel like Collins can develop young talent.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous JoeJoe said...

Personally, I credit MJ for the development of Pip and Hooooooooorace!

Coaches developing players in the NBA seems a bit overrated. I mean in the end it's really up to the players to work hard and learn the ways of the NBA. Then tallent takes over.

MJ made Phil Jackson and I think just having those guys playing with the GOAT really helped develope them more than any sweaty lecture from Doug Collins.

HSCS whats with Billy Crystal?

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Bullshooter said...

I think one of the problems with the anti-Collins argument is this implicit assumption that he'll come in automatically play the Skiles guys the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth. Collins only mandate will be to maximize whoever turns out to be the first pick and fit the rest in as pieces around that pick. Skiles did the same thing in running the baby bulls out of town. That'll be good for some guys and bad for others. But the only way in this league to secure your spot is to play well enough that the team can't draft anybody better, or sign anybody better in free agency. Nobody on the bulls did that last year.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Hot Shit College Student said...

Billy Crystal sucks. That's a picture of me.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous JoeJoe said...

Thats you? So you look like Billy? God that must suck.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the outset, Saunders was in a lose lose position.
If the PIstons had made to even one NBA final in his 3 years, Saunders would not have gotten much credit.
Pundits would say he simply inherited a great team from Larry Brown and all he had to do is put those guys on the floor.
But since he failed to make the finals in three tries, the knives come out.
Of course, the knife that counts was in the hand of Joe Dumars.
In Dumars mind...and in the minds of Piston fans everywhere...Detroit should have been a dynasty, winning 4 or 5 conference titles in a row at the very least.
Dumars, when he put this squad together, envisioned at least one other NBA title for this team by now.
It's of no comfort to him that Miami went on to win the NBA championship and Boston might be on the verge of doing so.
Put it this way...Saunders was given the keys to a Porsche and he stalled it just before the finish line three times.
For that terrible sin, out the door he walks.

8:57 AM  

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