Coaches are some of the hardest people to judge objectively. There really are no coaching stats outside of wins and losses. Coaches can't make players be successful individuals, so their stats have no bearing either. The main focus of a head coach is to create that "winning" atmosphere in the locker room. To make the individuals collect their efforts into a single entity. But even then, those efforts are the composition of the individuals work.
So how can we rate a coach? An even harder question is how can we rate a coach of a team that we knew wouldn't be successful in that win/loss column? Truthfully it is purely subjective. The only good way is to compare/contrast him to other coaches of similar situations and to compare the opinion of the masses.
So we move on to Coach Lawrence Frank. He received a nasty situation right off the bat. His team three seasons previously had been coached by a first time coach in Michael Curry and the previous two seasons by the seasoned Jon Kuester. By most "expert" accounts these coaches didn't create cohesion and lacked a high basketball acumen.
Frank also lost his off season to the NBA lockout. He lost his time to teach his philosophy. To work with his youth more individually. To prove his acumen. Essentially the only thing that he had going his way was the knowledge that at any given moment he could just turn his Moose loose.
For now I feel it's important to ignore the debacle that was the off season. I'm just gonna focus for now on the only measure that the team itself knows, how Lawrence Frank stacks up against Michael Curry and Jon Kuester.
Michael Curry came into a pretty good situation to have. He had a set starting rotation that included one of the best point guards of the past decade in Chauncey Billups and a (at the time) rising star in Rodney Stuckey off the bench. But right as the season began Joe Dumars traded Billups away for The King of Team Cohesion himself, Allen Iverson. To make a long story short, about the only good thing to come out of that season was "The Fiverson Deal" and this blog.
But what made Curry a bad coach? It's hard to point a finger at any one thing but my biggest beef was how much he lost the locker room. Yes Iverson was and is a Prima Donna but that is his responsibility to control and to punish. Did he? No. I personally feel like that alone made him a bad coach. Lineups were another thing, but I'm gonna talk about those with Coach Q.
So now we make ourselves to Jon Kuester Era of Pistons basketball. Expounding itself over a period of two years we got to witness bufoonery, small ball lineups, and egotistical player behavior. All I'm gonna put here is Tayshaun Prince continually played power forward while Jon Kuester was coach. Also CV got minutes and Rip was allowed to be a bitch.
So yeah, those are incredibly simplified, subjective measurements to describe three total seasons, but I was looking more to establish that line ups and locker room behavior are important factors in judging a coach.
So what haven't we heard this season? Prince hasn't said "buffoonery" yet, nobody has skipped a practice, and I have to see anybody ignore Frank during a game. There are no headlines saying a player won't be playing due to behavior. There aren't any headlines describing that sort of locker room discourse.
Really, that sort of behavior in a locker room is only destructive to a young team. The head coach is the team manager. In a normal business world he would be handing out the probations and diciplining accordingly. It's reassuring to see that we now have a coach who at least takes this aspect of his job seriously.
So we move onto lineups, how can we judge this? Well, he seems to be starting to right players. Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight, Tayshaun Prince, and currently Jason Maxiell are the everyday starters. I don't think we'll find anybody who can accurately argue somebody else starting over any of those guys, especially when we consider the recent results of that starting lineup.
More importantly with that lineup is that nobody is apparently out of position. The guard spots are basically interchangeable, Prince is a small forward, and Jason Maxiell is a power forward. Monroe's current "true" position is currently debatable, but he's find mucho success as a center so why not just call him a center? At their core, these lineups are sound. It's spotty player production that has been affecting those wins and losses. Not the matchups themselves.
Another measure that would be nice to use on judging Frank would be crunch time play calling. Two minutes left of a close game, what does he do? Unfortunately I can't say that I can even subjectively say anything on the matter. The spotty play has basically removed Frank from having to coach in those situations. All I can truly say is that I have confidence in Frank to at least make the right move. I guess that alone is saying something because I never could say that about Curry or Kuester.
So now we look at what we have before us. We have a team that is winning some games, staying competitive against good teams. Stuckey says he loves playing with Knight and that Moose is becoming increasingly golden. All of this done without those preseason workouts. The summer league games. A slurry of meaningless exposition games. Cohesion is being gained in the absence of a normal situation. Players are learning and gelin' like felons. Players don't seem to concerned about their numbers, but the team itself. Jonas could be whining up a storm about a drop in minutes, but I haven't heard a peep. Behind the losses there is a tad bit of beauty to the situation. Even more so when you think about what the past few seasons were like.
But truly, if I could find this many words to say something as simple as "Lawrence Frank is doing a pretty good job" for my college classes, my stupid online class would be a breeze. But I hope the discussion doesn't end here, now your thoughts.