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Fantasy Basketball: Coaching Concerns Part III

Well, Scott Skiles is out as Bulls head coach. So much for analyzing him in the first installment.

Jim Boyland was named interim head coach of the Bulls on Thursday, marking his first stint as a head coach at the professional level. According to GM John Paxson, Boyland was named interim head coach because he "has paid his dues as an assistant coach" and that the team will be different because he "has his own ideas on the way he wants us to play".

Well, if nothing else, it will be interesting to see how the Bulls respond to a coaching staff shake-up in the early goings of the season. I'd attempt to give you a solid analysis of the kind of ideals Boyland will instill into his team, but he asserts that his "approach will be different and [he] will be [him]self". More telling is the following statement from Boylan: "I hope any preconceived notions about anyone are put on the back burner." There clearly isn't much of a pre-defined idea to go off of here.

In trying to get any sort of idea of a style he might go with, we could look at his coaching influences. Those include Mike Fratello, Brian Hill, Al McGuire, Jud Heathcote, and of course, Scott Skiles. Boylan has been an assistant under all of these coaches (exluding McGuire for whom he played at Marquette). And of course, all were excellent at coaching the game to their respective players. The most important tasks for Boylan to accomplish for the remainder of this season are to repair the Bulls waivering confidence and coach some intensity back into them. They have the right personnel as their 2006-'07 playoff performance showed. They just need the right type of coach to light a fire under them.

As Paxson claims the job is Boylan's for the rest of the season, perhaps Boylan will have the time to do just that for the Bulls and win himself a head coach job somewhere (perhaps Chicago) next season.

Here are the remaining 10 head coaches in this third and final installment of Coaching Concerns.  (Click to read Part I and Part II.)

In alphabetical order by team location:

Orlando Magic :: Stan Van Gundy
Stan, brother of Jeff Van Gundy, was one of the most prolific coaches in the history of the Miami Heat with a regular season win percentage of .605 (3rd all-time) and postseason win percentage of .607 (2nd all-time). He took the same proficiency to the Orlando Magic as they sport a strong 19-11 record. Ironically, Van Gundy took the Heat to a 59-23 record in his first season coaching the dominant presence known as Shaquille O'Neal. It can be argued that man-child Dwight Howard is better than Shaq was at this point in their respective careers, but more importantly, we notice that Van Gundy preaches defensive intensity and an inside-out game. In this case, he's got Howard opening up the inside for his outside shooters to take advantage. To near perfection, might I add.

Philadelphia 76ers :: Maurice Cheeks
As an NBA player, Cheeks was selected to the All-Defensive Team five separate times. Combine that with his assistant coaching stint under Larry Brown for four season with the 76ers, and you've got a coach who knows defense. Cheeks is a high-energy defensive coach, quite predictably, and his 76ers show that with a 94.4 points average against them. The only problem is, they only score a mere 93.7 points a game themselves. Cheeks was never a high scorer himself, maintaining a 11.1 points career average, so he won't really be able to bestow much additional offensive knowledge onto his players. If he finds himself with a young and talented point guard that has solid court vision, however, his point guard knowledge could go a long way in development.

Phoenix Suns :: Mike D'Antoni
According to "In his first three full seasons, D'Antoni's Suns have had the league's top scoring offense in each season and compiled a 177-69 record (.720)." What else is there to say? D'Antoni coaches an almost free-lance offensive attack comprised of extremely athletic individuals who have been asked to play out of position (see Shawn Marion). This isn't a bad thing, however. With no true center and a run-and-gun style, the '04-'05 Suns started 31-4 with SF Marion playing at PF. D'Antoni has seen it all: he's been a player, coach, scout, and executive, in the ABA, NBA, and Italian League. Taking a little bit of everything from his résumé and implimenting it into the famous Princeton offense, you can see this strategic guru teaches everything offense.

Portland Trail Blazers :: Nate McMillan
McMillan is an early favorite for Coach of the Year honors. Without Greg Oden, this was expected to be a rebuilding season. Instead, they've won all eleven of their past eleven games. "Mr. Sonic" as he's known for his days playing and coaching for the Sonics has been an excellent mentor for the young Brandon Roy. McMillan was considered one of the NBA's top defensive players in his career, averagine 2.96 steals per game one season. He was also a skilled point guard, dishing out 25 assists in a game during his rookie campaign. It's no wonder Roy has been the key to the Blazers current streak. McMillan truly brings the team together and teaches them unselfish ball, something they'll need to continue this type of play while lacking Greg Oden.

Sacramento Kings :: Reggie Theus
After spending the past two seasons with New Mexico State, another college coach tests the transition. The Aggies were a successful program under Theus, but it's hardly a smooth transition from NCAA to NBA. Theus may be different, however. He is an excellent teacher and motivator, as well as a top talent as a recruiter ( ranked him in the top 25 in the nation in 2005). Theus is another of the NBA's great guard talents of the past, and this company tells the story: "John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson, John Stockton, Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler and Jerry West". He joins them as the only players to ever score over 19,000 points and dish out 6,000 points. With his knowledge of the game and intensity, his players don't give up easy buckets or make too many mental errors.

San Antonio Spurs :: Gregg Popovich
"Pop" is one of the most expressive coaches in the game, known for his intensity in his teachings and practices. He preaches defense and hustle play, making sure his team understands the fundamentals of the game. If anyone lives by the phrase "defense wins championships", it's Gregg Popovich. He might as well have coined the phrase. It doesn't hurt that he has the right players for the job, such as defensive specialist Bruce Bowen and very coachable players such as Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. All of the credit goes to Pop, though. He's led his team to a top-five defense in the league status for the past half decade or so, and is the proud owner of four championship rings. Popovich teaches the team unselfish ball and all the intangibles have paid off.

Seattle SuperSonics :: P.J. Carlesimo
Much like the prolific Popovich, Carlesimo has three rings of his own. Wonder why? P.J. was Pop's lead assistant in San Antonio for the past five seasons. Carlesimo wasn't exactly dependent on Popovich for coaching sustenance, however. His '96-'97 Blazers had allowed the lowest field goal percentage in history to that point (.436). All three of P.J.'s Blazers teams rebounded well too, finishing in the top three in the league in their respective seasons. And, he did the exact same thing in his short tenure with Golden State. As he's proven, Carlesimo is quite the coach when it comes to hustle and team defense. P.J. has young talent to mold into a team similar to a San Antonio build if the right personnel is brought in and P.J. stays a while. Kevin Durant is long enough to be a defensive star, too.

Toronto Raptors :: Sam Mitchell
Pure grit, determination, and hustle. That's Sam Mitchell's game. They've recently been considered the Suns of the Eastern Conference, but that wouldn't quite be a reflection on Mitchell. His players do, however. They are confident, knowledgable, motivated, and hard-working thanks to Mitchell's infectious energy. They need all of it, however, because Mitchell doesn't draw up the most complex plays and thus they often rely on a familiar strategy. In the NBA, you've got to mix it up sometimes, and if you don't have players who can create their own offense, you've got to mix it up often. It remains to be seen if Sammy is more of an offensive mind or a defensive one, but his team is relatively solid in both areas.

Utah Jazz :: Jerry Sloan
When you think Sloan, you think Stockton and Malone. No, I didn't intend to rhyme there, but he always seems to have two players on the right page. Yes, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are becoming the next Stockton and Malone. That basically covers his style right there: pick-and-roll, pass-first point guard, strong and skilled inside presence, and defense to boot. The only thing we're missing here are the short shorts. Let's see, what else do we have. Fundamentals? Check. Emotions and intensity? Check. Confidence in his abilities? Check. And all of those get transferred to the court on a nightly basis.

Washington Wizards :: Eddie Jordan
Jordan is a relatively young coach, but has a powerful influence on his team nonetheless. He's allowed the Wizards to see some of their best basketball in recent years, allowing Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler to flourish in what has become a system quite similar to Phoenix's: high octane, low defense. And, as with the Warriors, low defensive rebounding. The team doesn't quite get second-chance points because of their style, and their collective basketball IQ isn't exactly impressive. That doesn't stop them from competing in the East, and until it does, Jordan won't change a thing.