It's been close to two weeks since the Pelicans pulled the rug out from underneath former head coach Monty Williams. If I may, here's my stance on the Monty situation since I wasn't able to partake in the most recent roundtable: yes the timing of the decision to ax Monty is bad, but I'm not about to say that it was an unjust one. I think there's a difference in "wow I can't believe they fired him" versus "wow I can't believe they decided to fire him when they did." Sure, the franchise handled the timing rather poorly, but you know what, sometimes life comes at you fast.
I'm not the only one who has thought this but it bares repeating: this upcoming coaching hire will be single most important decision in the history of the franchise. The Pelicans have the most single attractive asset in basketball currently who's at least the third best player in the league and is only 22-years-old. You pick the right guy to be his coach as he enters his prime and you're contenders for as long as he remains in New Orleans. Pick the wrong guy and...well let's just get this one right cha feel?
Think of this as like when Warner Brothers and DC Comics decided to bring Batman back to the big screen after Joel Shumacher damn near killed the character with Batman and Robin. They had to get the right director. They couldn't afford to bank the cinematic future of Batman on a director like Michael Bay or anyone who's ever made a Sci-Fi movie. This needed to be a homerun hire and they got one in Chris Nolan. That's what the Pelicans are in need of from their future head coach and I've got the guy for the job: Mark Jackson.
Jackson and Williams have some similarities. Both were fired after reaching the playoffs and improving upon their win totals in three consecutive seasons. The two are widely considered to be a player's coach and both men are of strong faith.
However the two were shown the door for different reasons. Monty's was probably more "we don't think he's good enough to get the team where we expect." Jackson's was "we don't care how good he is or how much the team is improving, we can't stand the guy." Hold this thought, we'll get to it later.
Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself
Here's what we know about Mark Jackson the head coach: he made the playoffs in back-to-back years, losing in six games to the Spurs in the second round of the 2013 playoffs, and came up short against the Clippers in their seven game first round series last year. In Jackson's first season as a coach, the lockout shortened season, his Warriors won 23 games. Steph Curry, not yet the MVP/shooting wizard he is now, only played in 26 of 66 games that season.
The very next year the Warriors drafted Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, Steph Curry played in 78 of 82 games, and they won 47 games, good for 6th in the West. In Jackson's third and final season, Golden State again claimed the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs but increased their win total to 51 games. Jackson's teams got better every single year.
Take a look at these numbers and ask yourself if you would want a guy who's teams put up this over a three year span.
|Year||Offensive Rating||Points per Game||Pace||Rank|
A few things jump out to me when I look at these numbers. First of all, it's the statistical evidence showing that the Warriors improved in each category all three years under Jackson. I think this cancels out the "he's never had a top-10 offensive rating" complaint. Fine that's all well and good, but would you rather have a coach who's team improves every single year in offensive rating or have a guy who's team is placed in the "ever important" top-10? I'm taking the former because I don't know what being in the top-10 for this category means. I mean, let's say one year the Pelicans had an offensive rating of 91.16, That looks bad right? Well what if that rating was good for fifth in the league. Is the rating now so much better because you can attach a ribbon to it?
Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather have my team improve every year compared to themselves as opposed to the rest of the league. Isn't that how we measure success? How you stack up to a previous personal best? And besides if rank really matters that much, are we going to kick and scream because his teams placed 14th, 11th and 12th in Offensive Rating? I believe that's what we call "splitting hairs."
I'll use my own life as an example. I have a huge celebrity crush on Emma Watson. But let's say something crazy happens and Victoria Justice wanted me to marry her. Am I really going to be fool enough to turn down Victoria Justice because she's not Emma Watson? Hell no I'm not, and the Pelicans would be dopes to say no to Jackson because of a "ranking."
Don't You Forget About Me
I've been hearing that the Pelicans may want to hire that Tom Thibodeau fella because his Chicago teams are really good defensively. Well here before you go any further, read up on these defensive numbers that Jackson's Dubs put up and get back to me. I'll be getting caught up on 24 if you need me.
|Year||Defensive Rating||Opponent Points Per Game||Rank|
You want defense, Mark Jackson can bring you defense. The rapid ascension from "hilariously awful" to "hey not bad" and culminating with "wait, I thought you couldn't cross breed humans with piranhas?" should be a compelling enough case for New Orleans to "it's not you, it's me" Thibodeau. And if you're in to this sorta thing, here's the Warriors rankings in defensive rebounding in Jackson's three seasons: 29th, 1st and 2nd.That's just there if you want it.
Too Many Annoyed Cooks will Spoil the Broth
Now let's get to the reason why Mark Jackson currently finds himself in the booth instead of on the sideline. Jackson was fired because he reportedly clashed with Golden State's front office. One main reason was that Warriors owner Joe Lacob felt Jackson didn't hire the best assistant coaches he could possibly get despite telling Jackson to "take his wallet." Lacob is later on quoted as saying that 200 people in the Warriors' organization didn't like Jackson.
Here's the thing: no it's never good when you clash with the people you work with, especially the higher ups. But I've always felt that you don't have to like the people you work with, you just have to tolerate them long enough to meet or exceed the goals your employer sets in front of you. As long as the job is getting done, what more could you want?
I'm not trying to excuse Jackson's alleged headbutting with management, but come on. In his last year as coach, the man won 51 games and took the Clippers to seven games in the playoffs. That wasn't good enough to put ahead of some conflicting mindsets? Yes Jackson would probably be better off being more cooperative but he's not paid to be drinking buddies with an owner, he's paid to win games.
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Head Coach
Where ownership dislikes Jackson, the same could not be said for his former players. Those Warriors, Steph Curry namely, loved Jackson. They loved his brashness and his "it's us against the world" mentality. Frankly I think the Pelicans would welcome a dynamic personality like Jackson with open arms. At least with Jackson you won't have to wonder if he's asleep during games. This Pelicans team is young and on the rise and they need someone like Jackson to tell them how good they can be.
Mark Jackson can be a guy that lights a fire in the Pelicans in a way Monty Williams never could. It's like this, personality wise Monty trying to inspire the Pelican players was like when the Fire Nation couldn't firebend because of the solar eclipse. It just wasn't happening no matter how hard he tried. But if you put these guys under Jackson's wing? Well...let's just say Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans would definitely become firebending masters sooner than later. (I know what you're thinking and the answer is yes: Tyreke is Jeong Jeong and Davis is Uncle Iroh.)
The Pelicans are at a crossroads. The next person appointed to coach Anthony Davis entering his prime will dictate the franchise's future. If the Pelican front office chooses wisely who knows what's in store for the team. I think Mark Jackson is the obvious choice.
But if the Pelicans disagree might I also suggest Rasheed Wallace?