It was brought to my attention that some of the STR contingency is resigned to the fact that the Kings are going to hire Paul Westphal. Many of you responded to my previous polls (thanks btw) indicating a strong preference for either Kurt Rambis, Tom Thibodeau, Avery Johnson, Ettore Messina, and Jeff Van Gundy. Paul didn't make our short list.
Am I too optimistic or myopic to assume that the true Kings Fans that religiously read STR and pine about what is needed to turn around the organization don't realize that we have an actual opportunity to perhaps leverage our collective soul to potentially influence this process to ensure all of the contenders above are equally considered?
What does it hurt to share with the Maloofs, Geoff Petrie, local media or even K9 that we strongly believe Paul Westphal, while not a terrible choice is not even in our top 5 list of candidates?
At best he is as good as Rick Adelman, a competent coach that can steer the team in a new direction and get us back to playoff caliber basketball. Like Rick Adelman, he lacks the Je ne sais quoi to get a team over the hump to win the Championship. (Sorry Rick, we know the league screwed us in 2002 and Chris' injury in 2003 ruined your legacy). Like Adelman's Kings, Westphal's Suns were arguably better than Phil Jackson's team (The Bulls) but was out coached by Phil Jackson.
Worst case is he is as good as Rick Adelman (nobody at STR would pick 'em over Adelman mind you), a coach that was unable to turn around in 2 years a bad team like Golden State (Even though they had Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Joe Smith, Latrell Sprewell).
Adelman's teams averaged 3rd and 10th respectively--none of which ever won the NBA Championship. Westphal's teams averaged 8th and 19th respectively. I will post separately some more analysis on this topic later.
Westphal and Adelman both have winning percentages above .600, but neither coach ever turned around a team that was bad or young and turned them into a contender. Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, Seattle, and Houston were all play-off bound teams all had at least one All NBA player on them. If we were looking for a coach to deal with Shaq and Kobe shenanigans then they could be your guy. Both maintained status quo and dealt with Egos like Clyde, Barkley, Ainge, Latrell Sprewell, Kevin Johnson, Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady. That is a nice feature, but is irrelevant give our team right now.
If Westphal becomes our Coach we are destined to repeat history. If this happens we lose K-Mart at his prime and most likely push JT and Hawes to greener pastures. We cannot stress enough how important it is to mold the young nucleus of potential we have over the next two years.
If you take a look at just two factors that determine the success of an NBA Team here they are: Pace Factor and Defensive Rating. I am not saying they are the only two of course but there is amazing consistency amongst the NBA Championship teams. Only two teams in the last 20 seasons, the '02 Lakers and the '95 Rockets cracked the top 10 in Pace Factor and still won the title. Likewise, Defense wins championships and only those same two teams were non Top 9 Defense Rated teams and still won the title. The winning average? Pace Factor average of 19 and Defensive Rating average of 4.5.
We need a coach that has won a championship or who was the assistant coach for a team that won a championship or came from a system that instilled a philosophy that slowed the pace down and improved our defense so we increase our upside to win a championship. Based on all of the above I will remind our Kings faithful here about the other picks:
Kurt = 3 championships, 5 finals under Phil Jackson. Pace Factor is an 11.3 avg. and 6.1 Defensive Rating avg.
Avery Johnson = Took Nelson's team with a Pace Factor of 2nd and Defensive Rating of 29th and in one season they were 9th and 9th respectively. The next season they were 26th and 11th respectively and went to the NBA Finals. His career Pace Factor average is 21 and his Defensive Rating is 8.5. Don't forget his NBA Coach of the Year honor in '06
Tom Thibodeau = 1 championship 2 finals; as a lead assistant his teams averaged a Defensive Rating of 6th and a Pace Factor of 22nd. If you subtract the lame duck coach years under Chaney, Tarkanian and Lucas his Defensive rating moves to 4th!
Jeff Van Gundy = 1 Final as a head coach and 1 Final under Riley. Career Pace Factor average of 21.7 and Defensive Rating of 4.
Ettore Messina = Won 87.8% of his games throughout last 21 season as a Head Coach in Professional Basketball not including at the Junior National level. In total he has won 5 Junior Championships, 11 Cups, 8 National Championships, and 4 Euroleague Championships. At every level he has won titles with multiple teams. At quick glance his team has led the Euroleague this year in fewest points allowed while having an estimated Pace Factor of 16 out of 24 teams. His team is 8th in points scored, 3rd in shooting, 1st in 3 point shooting, 1st in fewest turnovers, and 1st in blocks. Subsequently they are below average in rebounding but if you take the ball away and allow fewer possessions it follows those stats would be lower.
In Summary, we have a golden opportunity to turn this franchise around and a head coach is an integral part of that goal. Please give me your feedback on if or how we should sound our crazy cow bells and be heard!