Thursday, April 21, 2011
Vinny Del Negro and an Exercise in Coach Evaluation
It's difficult to isolate and evaluate the performance of a coach, as I found out trying to do just that with with Del Negro and the Clippers this year. So many moving parts, especially in this coach's first season that included, among other things: injuries, big personalities and plenty of roster turnover. In the end, I feel pretty much how I expected we'd all feel from the beginning. From my piece at Clipperblog:
The thinking went: if Vinny could preside over Blake Griffin’s imminent launch to superstardom and facilitate the transfer of playmaking duties from Baron Davis to Eric Gordon, the rest of the team would follow their lead, thus transforming the culture of the organization, both on and off the court. No longer would Clipper teams start out strong and show promise, only to degenerate over the courses of injury-riddled, losing seasons.
Never mind that Rose, like Griffin, was probably bound for greatness no matter which coach he played for, the key would be fostering an approach that emphasized player development and would aim to compete in and hopefully win games with the support of veterans like Baron, Chris Kaman, Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye and Craig Smith. It would not matter to the Clippers if the young players developed because of him or in spite of him, as long as they progressed...
In his first year, Vinny Del Negro won exactly one more game (32) than former Clippers coaches Mike Dunleavy, Alvin Gentry and Mike Shuler did in their first seasons. Only Paul Silas had more in franchise history, 36, while the team was in San Diego. Considering the dismal start to the season, that’s something. What became clear over the course of the season is the unprecedented potential for the franchise. For Del Negro and his staff, their true value will show in what they do from here, amidst the elevated expectations that come with such promise.