Don Nelson is the 14th Best Coach in NBA History

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 30: Head coach Don Nelson of the Golden State Warriors yells against the Memphis Grizzlies during an NBA game on March 30, 2009 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Throughout the offseason, Pick and Popovich will rank the top 15 coaches in NBA History

Total Seasons: 30

Total Championships: 0

Regular Season Record: 1335-1063

Regular Season Winning Percentage: .557

Playoff Record: 75-91

Playoff Winning Percentage: .452

 

Why he’s great: Arguably the greatest offensive coach of all time, Nelson coached parts of 31 NBA seasons and his offense finished among the top-5 in points per possession 13 times. He did it with players in Milwaukee you’ve never heard of and he did it with superstars in Dallas and Golden State, but the one thing those teams had in common was pace.

Along with Rick Adelman, Nelson was among the first coaches to embrace pace-and-space offenses. His Warrior teams finished in the top-10 for three point attempts every season he was there and often ended up much further, and he was largely responsible for developing an offense around the greatest shooting big man of all time, Dirk Nowitzki.

Though he never won a championship as a head coach, Nelson did orchestrate one of the greatest upsets in playoff history when his 2007 Warriors beat the 67-win Mavericks in the first round. Though his offense took center stage, Nelson’s strategy to use smaller defenders on Dirk Nowitzki unnerved Dallas, proving his versatility as a coach.

Timing proved to be Nelson’s greatest enemy, as his Mavericks managed to make the Finals the year after he left but did it largely by beating an Amar’e Stoudemire-less Phoenix team in the Western Conference Finals. Had he stuck around, he may have pushed Dallas over the top against Miami. In any case, he laid the groundwork for that finals team and even the 2011 version that won the championship.

 

Why he’s not higher: Nellie’s stubbornness proved to be his undoing on multiple occasions. Had he been willing to play Chris Webber at power forward instead of center he might have been able to keep him and build the sort of contender Webber eventually found in Sacramento. It’s also fair to wonder why Steve Nash improved so significantly after leaving Nelson for Phoenix. For whatever reason, many players who seemed logical fits in his system ended up thriving without him.

His lineup choices were also often rigid and too focused on star power and offense. Veteran Antoine Walker started all 82 games of the 2003-04 season for Nelson due to his reputation as a scorer, but he posted miserable .428/.269/.554 shooting splits and was among the worst defensive players in basketball. Had he been willing to play youngsters Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard more instead, the Mavericks may have finished higher than 26th in defensive efficiency.

That was Nellie’s fatal flaw. Though he wasn’t necessarily a bad defensive coach, he was so fixated on offense that he made decisions that ultimately caused more harm than good. Had he been more willing to try to coax scoring out of defensive players, his teams might have had more playoff success and he could have a championship ring.

Jabari Parker is the 45th Best Player in Basketball

Jabari 50

Throughout the offseason, Pick and Popovich will rank the top 50 players in the NBA. To be clear, these are 50 best players for the 2016-17 season, regardless of team situation, past performance or future potential. If you’re trying to win a championship in 2016-17, these are the 50 players you’d want most. 

Why He’s Great: Here are Jabari’s stat lines for each 20 game stretch of Milwaukee’s season:

  • Games 1-20: 9.5 PPG/3.8 RPG/0.9 APG, .474 FG%/.000 3FG%/.893 FT%
  • Games 21-40: 12.1 PPG/4.7 RPG/1.5 APG, .468 FG%/.000 3FG%/.745 FT%
  • Games 41-60: 15.2 PPG/6.4 RPG/2.3 APG, .535 FG%/.200 3FG%/.750 FT%
  • Games 61-82: 17.8 PPG/5.5 RPG/2.0 APG, .485 FG%/.320 3FG%/.753 FT%

So let’s see, we’ve got a former No. 2 overall pick in a functional rookie year improving his scoring by at least two points per game every quarter of the season without sacrificing efficiency. He’s slowly adding a three-pointer as the season goes on, his rebounding and assist totals steadily improve as well, and a year after tearing his ACL he plays in 76 games. This player is only 21-years-old.

In other words, coaches lock up your forwards, Jabari Parker is coming to town.

As Parker learns to pass, he’s going to become one of the best scorers in basketball. Those assist totals are far more relevant than they appear, if Parker turns into at least an above-average passer he’s going to be better than Carmelo Anthony ever was. Defenses have to devote so much attention to him and Milwaukee’s cutters are so athletic that a selfless Parker is going to lead to plenty of open layups. The fact that his totals kept improving last summer indicates that he’s getting a lot closer to that level than he should be at this point in his young career.

Why He’s Below No. 44 (Avery Bradley): Jabari Parker is the most flawed player on this list. He can’t play defense and even if his three-point shot is improving it’s never going to be a major feature in his game. Bradley can do everything Parker can’t and a lot of what we he can, even if his ceiling isn’t as high.

He has a scary injury history and plays on a team that uses positions as a suggestion rather than a rule. That’s fine when it comes to winning basketball games, but without clearly defined roles Parker’s development is not going to move as smoothly as it could’ve.

And one season does not a trend make. Sure, Parker played 76 games last year, but his conditioning is far from perfect and he has a torn ACL on his resume. That doesn’t mean he’s going to miss games, but he’s also not someone who can play 36-38 minutes every night. He’s going to hang closer to 30, and as much playing time as that is, it’s 15-20% less than other top players and his value goes down accordingly.

Fake NBA Trade of the Day 7/5/16: Vucevic to Golden State

Vucevic Warriors

*Trade was written before Kevin Durant chose Golden State, pretend that he didn’t for this to work. 

Every day, Pick and Popovich will post one fake trade and explain why it makes sense for every team involved to make it. There are no parameters beyond fitting within the salary cap. Sometimes the trades will involve stars, others role players. They are not grounded in actual rumors, they just make sense on paper. 

 

Warriors Logo

Golden State Warriors Receive: 

Nikola Vucevic

 

 

 

Bucks Logo

Milwaukee Bucks Receive:

Andrew Bogut

 

 

 

Magic Logo

Orlando Magic Receive:

Milwaukee’s 2018 1st Round Pick (Top-10 Protected)

 

 

Why Orlando would make this trade: Because picks are valuable. You can never have enough and Vucevic needs to be moved anyway.

Why Golden State would make this trade: Because Bogut is aging, and if they want to retain Festus Ezeli it makes sense to pair him with a center that has a different skill set in the name of diversity. They’ve never really had an offensive-center, and they really could’ve used one against Cleveland.

Why Milwaukee would make this trade: It’s time for Andrew Bogut to come home! They could use another rim-protector and if the price is a first-round pick when they should be peaking as a team, that seems reasonable.

What Would Be the Funniest Combined Team Names?

2_westbrook_nuggets_lm_151101

I like funny team names, so I’m gonna make some by combining real team names. The only rule is I can remove the “s” off of teams if I want. Because I’m the writer.

  •  The Magic Bucks

If this isn’t already a euphemism, it should be.

  • The Thunder Nuggets

If McDonalds ever mass produced an energy bar…

  • The Jazz Pelicans

The next Pixar movie: a pelican named Peter, because alliteration, wants nothing more than to play jazz, but can’t, because he’s a pelican, and society or something.

  • The Rocket Kings

This one isn’t even funny. I just like it. It’s like the name of a gang from a crappy dystopian future movie.

  • The Sun Nets

This has to be a hipster thing. Some sort of net that lets you catch the sun or something. I’ll research and get back to you.

Fake NBA Trade of the Day 6/5/16: Monroe to Dallas

Monroe Mavs

Every day, Pick and Popovich will post one fake trade and explain why it makes sense for every team involved to make it. There are no parameters beyond fitting within the salary cap. Sometimes the trades will involve stars, others role players. They are not grounded in actual rumors, they just make sense on paper. During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, each week will feature seven fake trades of one star player. This is Greg Monroe Week. 

nba_bucks-primary_final_1294x1572-1                                                                436

 

Milwaukee Bucks Receive:                                                  Dallas Mavericks Receive:

Justin Anderson                                                                      Greg Monroe

 

Why Dallas would make this trade: Never underestimate the importance of cost certainty. The Mavericks are going to enter this offseason with around $38 million in cap space (assuming Chandler Parsons opts in, if he doesn’t, that opens up a whole other can of worms), but they need a center and a point guard. The only worthwhile point guard is Mike Conley, and he’ll command a $27 million max. That would leave Dallas only $11 million left to spend, and no worthwhile center is taking that little this summer. But Monroe was signed before the cap explosion, so at around $16 million he’d be a relative bargain. They’d still be within spitting distance of Conley after adding him, so all they’d need to do to get over the top would be to dump another few million dollars (Devin Harris being the easiest option). A Conley-Matthews-Parsons-Dirk-Monroe lineup has flaws, but it’s easily the best Dallas could put on the floor this season.

Why Milwaukee would make this trade: You can never have too many three-and-D wings, especially young ones on rookie deals.

Fake NBA Trade of the Day 6/4/16: Monroe to Charlotte

Monroe Hornets

Every day, Pick and Popovich will post one fake trade and explain why it makes sense for every team involved to make it. There are no parameters beyond fitting within the salary cap. Sometimes the trades will involve stars, others role players. They are not grounded in actual rumors, they just make sense on paper. During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, each week will feature seven fake trades of one star player. This is Greg Monroe Week. 

nba_bucks-primary_final_1294x1572-1                                                                   Charlotte-Hornets_new_logo

 

Milwaukee Bucks Receive:                                                  Charlotte Hornets Receive:

Spencer Hawes                                                                        Greg Monroe

 

Why Charlotte would make this trade: Though retaining Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum are likely higher priorities, Al Jefferson is a free agent and even if he’s retained he’s just not the same player he once was. Monroe could give the Hornets a reasonable facsimile of Jefferson, but with Frank Kaminsky they could still play heavy minutes as they did this season with a shooting center.

Why Milwaukee would make this trade: The Bucks need to find shooting somewhere, and if Jabari Parker is occupying a forward spot it might have to come from whoever plays center.

Fake NBA Trade of the Day 6/3/16: Monroe to Portland

Monroe Blazers

Every day, Pick and Popovich will post one fake trade and explain why it makes sense for every team involved to make it. There are no parameters beyond fitting within the salary cap. Sometimes the trades will involve stars, others role players. They are not grounded in actual rumors, they just make sense on paper. During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, each week will feature seven fake trades of one star player. This is Greg Monroe Week. 

nba_bucks-primary_final_1294x1572-1                                                                826-2

 

Milwaukee Bucks Receive:                                                  Portland Trailblazers Receive:

Ed Davis                                                                                    Greg Monroe

 

Why Portland would make this trade: Portland has shown interest in Monroe in the past, and though the defensive shortcomings of playing him with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum would be enormous, the offense might be the best in all of basketball.

Why Milwaukee would make this trade: The Ed Davis-John Henson combo gives Milwaukee all they need out of the center position: great shot blocking, rebounding and screen setting. Plus, it saves Milwaukee nearly $10 million in cap space they can spend immediately.