Seems like a lot of coaches in the NBA are given all kinds of lemons. Given lemons you make lemonade… The good ones make some palatable lemonade. The bad ones? Maybe that is the Kool-Aid.
Lord knows we drank enough Kool-Aid around here in Kings land. Coach after bad coach on a carousel of incompetence and DUIs. Broken promises and potential lost. Failure after finger pointing failure.
But now we have a new drink on the table and it isn’t supposed to be spiked with booze or Kool-Aid. This is supposed to be the real deal and the end of our binge-inspired and flavored vodka driven losers.
Michael Malone is an up and coming coach. He was the top candidate of the existing assistant coaches and was quickly picked up by Vivek Ranadive before he even chose a GM. He comes with a track record of endorsements and history of success.
The real question, however, isn’t about his qualifications. It is about his ability to make lemonade out of a bunch of sour lemons and, some would argue, a bad apple.
Malone helped turn around the GSWs and it was a huge improvement. In one year, they went from winning .348 of their games to .573. Their defense improved from allowing their opponents to score 109.1 points to allowing just 105.5 per 100 possessions. Offensively, they went from 105.4 to scoring 106.5 per 100 possessions. So, in just one year they really improved their defense and even gained some offensively.
Sadly, we just have not seen similar results. Many of us Kings fans hoped for better than the same exact record as last year. Only winning .341 of the games. The truth is that the roster of the Kings was much more deficient than that of GSWs and GSWs turned around their roster much more quickly.
The GSWs added a lot of talent in just one year. They got rid of Monta Ellis and added Bogut, Barnes, as well as some good depth with Jarret Jack and Carl Landry. In just one year they had decent starters at every position and were competing.
The Kings just could not match this change in the level of talent. Giving up Tyreke Evans for mismatched parts and pieces without getting any clear starters out of the trade until those parts and pieces went to Toronto for Rudy didn’t do much to increase wins. It’s not that Rudy isn’t a good player it is just that the roster is still incomplete.
The lack of shooting at the SG spot has hurt the Kings tremendously. The SG position seems to be cursed with some kind of spell that makes players forget how to shoot. You couple that with the mess at PF as the Kings try every player they can only to have each fail in securing themselves a starting role. In short, the roster is still just a damned mess. It is still filled with too many players who are not in the long term plans.
But wait a minute, isn’t that just the way it goes in the NBA? Coaches have to struggle with injuries and all kinds of situations that leave them without a complete roster. Coaches have to develop their players and put them in a position to win games. Coaches have to make lemonade out of whatever they have…
And the reality is that it takes good coaches to do that.
This is one argument. That all rosters have talent and it is up to the coach to use that talent the most effectively. There is some validity to this point of view. We can look at Coach Adelman and his record here in Sacramento. He took the Kings to the Playoffs every year he was here and that includes even the years where we lost most of our core talent. He maintained a winning record despite the lack of talent and having no stars with mostly role players, but then Adelman is also the ONLY coach in the history of the Kings in Sacramento to have higher than a .500 record.
Adelman made some damn fine lemonade and it probably isn't fair to compare a newbie head coach to him. Particularly when the Kings are a special brand of mess. Given a roster of leftovers after a fire sale for cash considerations... It is going to take longer than GSW needed to rebuild this roster.
Can Malone be as good as Adelman? At some point it may be a valid question. Right now. We probably need a complete and better roster before we draw too many conclusions. I think that PeteyD is going to wrap up the roster changes sooner rather than later. I would hope this summer and, if so, we can see if Malone can make lemonade. He didn’t last year. He hasn’t yet. So, the question still stands. Can he? We just don’t know because he is an unproven coach with an incomplete roster, but the upcoming year should tell us a lot.
DMC will have less of a chip on his shoulder having proven that he is worth his contract. Gay will be redeemed as an efficient player. IT won’t be playing for a big contract. Hopefully that leads to all three being more team oriented and an offense that doesn’t just highlight them. Because only have an assured 60 points a night from them doesn’t win a lot of games.
Only time will tell.
What do you think? Given the summer to improve the roster, what measure of success does Malone have to squeeze out of his lemons? Does he need to achieve .500? The Playoffs? Or less than that..?