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Coaching Grades vol. 1: Why on earth is Crawford you PG?


Race to the MVP, Rookie Report, Power Rankings, the Nower Rankings, and god knows what else is dedicated to analyzing the players and teams deserving the most and least deserving of praise.

Ranking’s are inherently flawed to to being a completely subjective structure. You could say “True Blood” is better than “The Wire” and after I laughed at you I wouldn’t be able to prove you wrong.

So take this with a grain of salt when I do these coaching rankings, especially when I say I havent watched a team a lot. The Coaching Grades will be done in the middle of every month, each with it’s own twist hopefully.


Let’s get on with it already: February 

The title from this post, which is quite humorous, came from Scott Leedy after watching the Blazers derp themselves out a win against the Clippers, reminding us all that really, for all the flack we give the players, the coaches need to be scrutinized as well.

Atlantic Division

  • Avery JohnsonNet’s: (C-) What a difference a new job brings. Johnson, who is still only 46 year old, was looked at as one of the best young coaches in the NBA, winning coach of the year in his second year and finishing his tenure with the Mavericks with an impressive 194-70 record and a finals trip, even if that finals was playoffAIDS. Now after having a collective 24.5 wins under .500 with the Nets, he looks merely average among his peers, which is in no means is a good thing. In Dallas he was somehow able to finish with good point totals considering how slow he ran them (their “highest” ranking in pace when he was the full season coach was 24th) and without much different pace or strategies implemented, has seen a precipitous drop off in PPG and efficiency. Of course while having Dirky-Poo can help any teams offense, his inability to get a team to run some to get points in transition when he has almost no one who can create a shot is bad. However, these are the Nyet’s we are talking about, their best player is in Dwight-Or-Bust mode, their big’s are either brooken (LAUGH AT MY PUNS) or affiliated themselves with Kardashians, and their best scorer has been a rookie. You would figure Avery is going to be on the hot seat at some point with how awful these teams defense (aka his calling card) has been, but his teams have been inherently terrible.
  • Mike D’AntoniKnicks(C) Around this time last year I was actually starting to like Mikey as a coach. Felton had been playing some of his best ball, Amare was scoring at will, the depth at the wing’s was producing two very talented players, and he was even playing a rookie in Landry Fields. They had improved to mediocre on the defensive end, and there was even a few cases of help defense being witnessed. Then came the Melo trade, a swift yet interesting defeat to the celtics in the playoffs, and a season of mixed feelings. Coming into this season I questioned the validity of having Shumpart play as a point guard, and I seem to be correct in that regard. Tyson Chandler and Mike Woodson have led to a surge up the defensive rankings without a large drop in pace, and we are in Linsanity, but pre-Lin he pitched all of his PG hopes on a still injured Baron Davis and refused to alter how the team was going to play without any real creator, and HE LET MIKE BIBBY’S CORPSE ON THE COURT FOR ALMOST 15MPG. Adding in JR Smith and bringing in a healthy Melo only add to the questions around the Knicks, and in a month he could be a king of New York or out of a job, but more likely there will still be questions galore.
  • Doc RiversCeltics(B-) Holy crap, Doc Rivers is a lot younger than I thought. Being 50 and have 13 seasons as a NBA head coach in itself is really impressive. I feel kinda sad for having him as a B-, even though I know he has never been confused with a tactical genius, because this Celtics team is like watching the once glorious samurai put in all of his effort into protecting his nursing home. Jeff Green, Rondo, Pierce, KG, Ray, Bass, and even Lowered Expectations champion Jermaine O’Neal have all missed time, so that’s quite the feat to still rank 3rd in the NBA on defensive rating. I guess my main issue with him has been his refusal to accept that he needs to find out if Bradley can be a long term PG, and if not play him at SG, or SF, or PF, or C. JUST PLAY HIM. As a fan of the sport overall I would like to see him admit that this ship has run it’s course and give Ainge the blessing to trade the non Pierce vet’s away for pieces, but I can’t blame to man to refuse to accept defeat.
  • Dwane CaseyRaptors(B-) The Dwane Casey experience has been really interesting to watch. While I ranked Doc lower than I felt comfortable with as a fan of the guy, I am ranking Casey higher than I probably should based on his potential to be a great coach in a league who desperately needs more to emerge. The Raptors are a poorly constructed team that has “earned” it’s 9-22 record, but look at that roster real quick. Then look at the roster of the Kings and Wizards real quick. Based of of the talent there, the Raptors are a distant third, before factoring DeMar DeRozan decided to take the year off. Yet this teams love’s this coach, even as he plays the Tank Commander too much, Magloire at all, and Ed Davis not enough. He has Bargs of all people playing serviceable and emotional defense, and has unleashed the terror that is James Johnson guarding your team’s best wing on the world. His rotations need work and with a more talented team it would be easier to see how good of a coach he really is, but I like the start he is off too.
  • Doug CollinsSixers(A) Coach of the year? Collins took all the momentum he built last year, kept it safe during the lockout, then threw it into a particle accelerator at the start of the season. This is a roster that has no dominant big man, only one premier defender, and their best player at creating a shot is an undersized combo guard who comes off the bench. Yet this is the best defensive and a top ten offensive team in the NBA. Iggy made his first all star team, three rotation players are shooting above 50% in basic FG%, led by newly crowned god of efficiency Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks has become one of the best floor spacers in the NBA, and six players have contributed more than 2 total win shares already, while none have more than Lou Williams and Iggy’s 3.6. Nobody on this team is playing out of their roles, and none of these players are stars, yet Collins has took advantage of their specializations and implemented one of the most fundamentally sound defensive techniques we have seen since the Larry Brown Pistons.

Central Division

  • Tom ThibodeauBulls(B) Things Thib’s does well: Manage defense, maximizing players strengths, having role players buy in, riding the hot hand, and adjusting to injuries. All of those should make him a great coach, and while he is very good coach, what he has done poorly in the constricted season may hurt in the playoffs. Those things are overplaying key players and going too basic with his offense. Luol Deng, a very solid player and glue guy, is playing over 38 minutes a game, which would be really high in a normal season with multiple days off in between game, and injuries having less impact on the final standings, but in a season that has little to no rest? He may die. Rose is also playing more than 35 minutes per game and with his back issues he is having this could become a chronic issue with that much PT.  His offense late in game’s can cause ire, as he is heavily relient on iso and screen and go’s aka the most vanilla of all offenses. His rotation management of his two most critical players might be his downfall this year, but if he corrects that, sky is the limit.
  • Scott SkilesBucks(C-) And so it begins once again. Skiles is thought of as a great defensive mind, but one whose knowledge of offense is only worse than his ability to relate to players. This year the bucks are actually average in terms of offense, and bleh on the defensive end, of course without having Andrew Bogut it makes it hard. The third part has shown through as always though, with the mercurial SJax rubbing off on Jennings, and Gooden and the other role players don’t seem too far away. It’s one thing to not get along with your players, it’s quite another when your players detest you. I would say he is on the hottest seat of all as we speak, and this might be the last grade for him as a Buck.
  • Byron ScottCavs: (C+/B-) I always feel awkward when I analyze Byron. On the one hand he is praised for his development of PG’s and good player relations, on the other hand I think most coaches could do a good job with CP3 and Kidd. He looks to add Kyrie to his list, and looking at how different Kyrie is from the others, it might be time for me to drink the Kool-Aid. This Cavs team is surprisingly competent despite ranking 21st on offense and defense, and having limited depth. Of course there were very limited expectations going into the season, so it has to be a success. If anything the biggest surprise to me is how well Andy V is playing, going from pure role player to showing some real ability to be a complimentary piece, ala David West. I also want to commend Scott for not over playing Kyrie and letting him play his own way. So really this is one of the more surprising coaching jobs of the year.
  • Frank VogelPacers(B+) Similar to Doug Collins, he has mounted on his success from last year and has gone from interim to highly valued coach rather fast. His style is an odd one, he seems to be a players coach who allows for individual creativity as long as it fit’s into the overarching plan, which is fun to watch, and one would almost say this is a positive thing to do as it builds confidence and passion. The fast pace of the team is weird to look at due to their mediocre offensive rating and use of Hibbert in the half court game. I would like to see him develop the end of the bench better, but these are small quibbles for a guy in his first full year. In the long run it will be good to see how much his players really buy into his system or just see him as a pushover, but as of right now, I have a coach crush on him.
  • Lawrence FrankPistons(D+) I have never been a Frank fan, so excuse me if I seem harsh. As much as I love all things Greg Monroe (Hoyyyyyyas) outside of that I feel so meh about this team. I like Knight in the long run as a above average PG, but having a trio of Knight-Stuckey-Gordan play off each other just is so meh. Why not try to just let the young guns run free if your going to suck? Knight playing at SG as often as he does is stupid. Jonas is the teams best forward and should play more than he is, and the collapse of Tayshaun would be eased by this. Oh, and why on earth are you playing Damien Wilkins AND Will Bynum? Just stop. I hope Dumars looks into changing how he evaluates coaches, because the recent history has been so meh.

Southeast Division

  • Stan Van Gundy – Magic(B-) I like SVG more than his brother to say the least. He has finally allowed the Ryan Anderson show to play all the time and made Hedo occasionally care about sports. With all the Dwight rabble-rabble going on, it would be easy to just throw in the towel on the season, but he hasn’t. He has slowed the pace in recent years to mask the lack of any real athletes in the main rotation outside of Dwight, and once again it helps them achieve above average offensive and defensive metrics. They are once again a great three point shooting team, and once again awful at FT% (Thanks Dwight). My main issues with him are how he manages his role players. Ok, it’s fine if you don’t like Bass on D, DONT TRADE HIM FOR BIG BABY THOUGH. He still loves Jason Richardson when it is pretty clear JJ Redick is not only better for the future, but now, and Von Wafer is beautiful, let us see him play. A slightly down season for him, mostly due to his trade’s and favoring the vets.
  • Randy WhitmanWizards: (Not a single clue) I outsourced this one to a frond who is also a wizards fan, bless his soul. That’s really all I got for this
  • Erik SpoelstraHeat(B?) Is anyone even really sure what he does? He certainly is a smart guy and is liked by his players, but I don’t know what is his credit and what is having two top players and another all-star. They have implemented the basketball version of Oregon’s read spread or something? They have improved on their TO’s, steadily improving while Wade was out, and he stands by is guys. I really want to believe he is a good coach, but I am also not sure what to view with him. I am interested with his rotations of the bench going forward, as he has Battier and Miller now to go with Cole and Haslem.
  • Larry DrewHawks(B) Drew’s results in terms of PPG/oPPG compared to oRTG/dRTG are nearly identical, which is kewl. I like what he is doing, and am impressed with how well he has done once Horford went down. He still gives Joe Johnson too large of a leash to put up the least inspiring 18/4/4 ever amassed, and after his main bench of Green/Tmac/Ivan Johnson when he’s not derping around he pretty much has no rhyme or reason with his role players. Still he has really gotten to Josh Smith who was the teams real All-Star, is coaxing all he can out of McGrady, and to my eye there are less random ISO’s. He still preaches a defense that creates to many fouls and an offense that doesnt get enoughm which will block him from the upper tier of coaches
  • Paul SilasKatz(N/A) I am not going to badmouth Paul Silas, but my lack of a grade shouldn’t be taken as a compliment. This team is really bad and there is an incentive to play Kemba beyond the games themselves, but still I was hoping for more. I was hoping he would be a player coach who can be the hardass on the Diaw’s and Bad Porns of the world. I was hoping hey would play and uptempo game. But most importantly, I was hoping he would unleash holy hell onto the world of basketball in the form of Bismack Biyombo, a player who I have a mancrush to end all mancrushes, and not play him out of position and inconsistently. Silas is still a better person than almost any athlete, so it is hard for me to ever insult him. God that was hard.

Southwest Division

  • Kevin McHaleRockets(C+) Well this is an improvement. McHale was, well, bad in Minny, but at least he got them Love. He seems to be competent now, if still a bit off. Kevin Martin is still Kevin Martin, but at time’s he has been hit or miss rather than his usual consistent to the point of agony self. Scola started off horrid, and while this still would be his worst year, he has improved, and Lowry is a top contender for most improved. Dalembert has alternated between awesome and average, and Adrian is occasionally added into the rotation for some awful reason. See the trend? If you don’t let me explain. There is following the hot hand, and then there is just changing the rotation to change the rotation. McHale seems to be doing the latter, but this has been his best season so far, so he get’s a few bonus points for that.
  • Gregg Popovich – Spurs(Pop) I am a Spurs fan, DO YOU REALLY WONDER WHAT I AM GOING TO SAY?
  • Lionel Hollins – Gristle(C/C+) Having the reputation as a good guru but poor X and O coach seems to be the prevailing trend on former players, and guess who else fit’s the mold? With injuries to Arthur and ZBo, a 16-14 record isnt awful, and the defense is still good. What concerns me is all that is going wrong with the offense. When your PG is shooting more than your C and one of your best players, that tends to be an issue. When your offense looks like it is learning from the ball movement school of Mike Woodson, it’s an issue. When you have three players, two of which have an injury history playing more than 35 MPG, it’s an issue. Having one player with an eFG% of over 50% and five under 43% is an issue. Lionel Hollins, your defense will bail you out and ZBo will mask players deficiencies, but this team has issues.
  • Monty Williams – Hornets: (C) I can’t really be mad. The Chris Paul trade, EG hurt, Ariza being Ariza, and Meka is really passive on offense. Jack was never a true PG, so being mad at him shooting is being mad at what he does to be effective. Marco……. Starts. Aminu is sad Lamar 24/7. So really Monty Williams has little to work with. I don’t like how he handles Kaman and wishes he would give Vasquez more time, but that just makes me sound really cynical, and even though I am, that’s just too easy. I hate losing basketball in a city this awesome, but if I lived in NOLA I wouldn’t support this product. I can’t really blame Monty, but there isn’t anything to credit him for either besides the continued leash on Gustavo Ayon.
  • Rick Carlisle – Mavs(B+) Losing your main assistant, best defensive player, and adding Vince and sad Lamar are your big moves? Let’s lower the expectations. Dirk looks tired and slightly hungover for much of this year? Let’s lower them some more. Jason Kidd finally ages like a normal human? Some more. Once you factor these things in it is hard to not like what Rick has done. The bench is one of the best in the NBA, and it is deep for both offensive and defensive purposes. That bench impact is one of the main reasons their defensive metrics are still strong, as Terry and West both have more than 1 DWS, and 3 more are at .9.  He has also maximized the passing and playmaking for a team that really has one playmaker, and he is ancient. I wish he would remove the starter tag from Kidd until the playoffs just to keep him rested and either commit to be a fast pace or slow team for the remainder, but I can’t really complain.

Northwest Division

  • Scott BrooksThunder(C) You know how when someone is really consistent they call them a robot? Tim Duncan, Nash, Chase Utley, and The Roots are the good kind of Robot, where it’s consistently good, while Brooks is the Robot that is consistently mehtastic. The things I wanted him to improve last year: Defend his players, defuse the whole horseshit Wessy/Durant “Beef” in the media, run an actual offense, use your depth more. Things I want him to improve this year: Defend his players, run an actual offense, use your depth more. He is lucky Wessy/Durant sorted the “Beef” out themselves, aka an off base report was vehemently denied. The offense is still “We can do it guys” recited by Eeyore, DurantBrook are playing a combined 1 less MPG, and the end of the bench is still not used. The team is still a top 3 team in the NBA, but it is almost in spite of him.
  • Nate McMillanBlazers(C+) Oh Nate. I used to really be a big fan of yours, now? Your decisions inspired the title of this. His players seem to like him and he is still a good defensive strategist, but his rotations are inflexible and his offense is CC’d from the Roy years, which was not a good thing then. Dribble, Dribble, Dribble, ISO! best sums it up. I love Gerald Wallace, you love Gerald Wallace, hell Kendrick Perkins once smiled while near Wallace, but just because the guy plays through a collapsed lung, does not mean you play him 36MPG. Why does it feel like the end of the Blazers bench is inhabited by body doubles because the actual guys knew they wouldn’t play? Would it really be so wrong as to accept that Crawford is not a PG and unless you have a point forward and uninjured Bill Walton playing he shouldn’t play there for long periods? There are three regulars shooting UNDER 40%, please help them get easier shots or start motivating them to shoot less….. Much less.
  • Tyrone CorbinJazz(A-) My other main candidate for COY, although I know he won’t win it and if he did something would feel wrong about getting it and Sloan never getting one. Simply put, when three of your best five players are PF/C’s, including the only two that average double figures on your team, and your still a .500 team you deserve credit. Devin Harris has been flat out baaaaad for much of the year, and I don’t think Raja Bell has a pulse. Gordon Hayward is better at Starcraft than basketball, and CJ Miles has a sub 500 TS%. This team isn’t all that talented on offense, and Corbin knows this, which is why they are a slow team, don’t turn it over,  and try to get to the foul line as much as possible to become a efficient unit as a whole. I wish Jeremy Evans played more, because Jeremy Evans dunks solve any problem, he is actually decent at times, and it would mean less Raja Bell. I wish nothing but success for Corbin, but I wish he got some reinforcements.
  • George KarlNuggggz(B+) I used to really not like Karl at all as a coach, but these bast few years I have grown to really love the guMarcys strategy and his respect for his players. I really like how well he uses his PG’s in tandem, his ability to make Al Harrington efficient, and how he knows to ride what is working at the moment. His Pace is beautiful, he uses an effective if unspectacular C rotation, and even with injuries to Hilarious Nene and Gallo has the offense clicking. With the likely addition of Wilson Chandler in the near future he will have more depth for his system. My main concern is with the good KFed, as the Nene and Mozgov injuries should have gotten him more burn, and with their shaky FT%, half court offense, and lack of effort to get second chance points. Still a good season for Karl.
  • Rick AdleMANWolves(B+) The. Timberwolves. Are. Competitive. Love. Is. Awesome. Rubio. Is. A. Unicorn. This. Team. Is. One. Wing. Away. From. Making. Serious. Noise. PEK.

Pacific Division……………. Oh shit I have spent way to much time on this time for the lighting round

  • Vinny Del BlackClippers(D+) Chris Paul has done the real coaching here. Tell Blake to stop with the damn long two’s and just dunk it and develop a post game. Caron Butler comeback player of the year?
  • Alvin GentrySuns(C) IF YOU LOVE STEVE NASH YOU WILL LET HIM GO. Gortat is awesome. Grant Hill should go with Nash
  • Mike BrownLakers(C-/C/C+) Improved D, worst starting PG/SF. Nobody in locker room respects him. Allowing bench to play
  • Keith SmartKangz(B/B+) Culture change, good record (relative) DMC and Reke look so much better. Baby Zeke is sweet.
  • Mark Jackson – Warriors(C+) If ESPN had their way, he would be the COY until he leaves/gets fired. Slight D improvement, Monta Regression, still the warriors. Mama there goes our fans!


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