Steve Kerr Too Conventional?
Steve Kerr Too Conventional? The Warriors at first glance have not repeated the mistake they made three years ago when they inked Mark Jackson to a contract. Coach Kerr appears to be a person anyone would want to work with. He has wanted to coach and planned to coach since his playing days ended. Though he was not a superstar fate placed him on teams where he could see the best coaches and players that the game had on a nightly basis. Curiously the obvious choice of consensus talent head NBA coach to be, David Blatt, was not even considered by the Warriors brass. Blatt’s incredible performance as a head coach overseas is well documented. He is considered an offensive innovator. Is he possibly the Don Nelson of his generation? There is the main problem. His generation. At 55 he is not part of the Michael Jordan generation that obsesses over itself. The main reason he was not considered by the Warriors was his age. In fact they tried to entice him to be an assistant coach, judged to be too old for the real job. To an outsider it seems they have it backwards, he has earned the head coaching job, Kerr is another Michael Jordan generation player with no experience as a coach. At least he has front office experience and does not have the obvious personality flaws that Mark Jackson has. Nonetheless the organization is taking a 25 million dollar gamble on a long shot rather than a 10 million dollar gamble on a odds on favorite. Very odd. To return to Kerr, the only question is how much has he learned? Does he have a feel for the game like Popovich and Nelson or will he miss the ebbs and flows of the NBA game like Mark Jackson did? Jackson was frequently criticized for not calling timeouts to stop the opposition’s momentum, a crucial role that NBA coaches must master. It is part of the job. Coach Popovich put the Spurs in a position to close out game six against Oklahoma and, in my view, won the game by calling time outs at just the right place and time. However, I have to say coach Don Nelson would have won game six in last years finals by calling timeout and making sure Allen or any of the other shooters were fouled as soon as the clock ticked below ten. First “King” James would have been fouled before the three-point shot, though he is the least dangerous of the three-point shooters and most certainly both Bosh and Allen would have been fouled on the rebound though with Nellie, Tim Duncan would have never left the game and might have grabbed the rebound. In any case the point is, with a three point lead, Nellie fouls with less than a ten second lead, Pop does not. Judge for yourself. Does Kerr go with conventional wisdom and not foul or with Nellie and foul every time? Bet on Kerr to go with conventional wisdom. Has Steve Kerr learned how to manage games? Giving the ball to Curry and praying is not really much of a game plan. With all the talent the Warriors have the Coach can be expected to orchestrate the game appropriately. Blatt must have been salivating at the chance to plan an offense around the talent the Warriors can put on the floor. Kerr seems well aware of these nuances when he is analyzing the game for the broadcasts. But Kerr has no experience. However, his biggest flaw may be the very thing which caused the Warriors brass to find him so attractive. He seems to get along well with consensus opinions and not challenge the prevailing mind sets or group think that is present in the organization for which he works. The ability to mesh is fine, but then the ability to think outside the box and plan schemes and plays that maximize your team’s strength and minimize your opponent’s strength may be something that is hard for him. Time will tell. He seems to buy into whatever conventional ideas are repeated on ESPN without question. He is a representative of Gen-X, according to studies, the most conservative generation in American history. Therefore his inability to think creatively and to make adjustments on the fly may be his most limiting characteristic. When ESPN announcers state that Mark Jackson changed the “culture” at Golden State to “get” the players to play defense, Kerr goes along with that line and affirms it as true like it was written in stone. But serious fans know Don Nelson’s run and gun teams of the eighties played defense with what they had, and entertained all with the best offense in the league with several good offensive players. How do you think run TMC would have done with a rim defender like Nate Thurmond rounding out the team? Then no one would have questioned their “defense”. But you coach to maximize the talent you have. Calling out the Warriors as a “no defense” team who tried to outscore their opponents was silly. Imagining and stating the Warriors played poor defense because of stupidity on Nelson’s part is just a way of avoiding a serious study of the team’s he coached and their potential. Nelson knew you were not going to beat very many teams in a half court with the line-ups he coached. For Kerr to go along with this non-sense makes me wonder if he thinks too much inside the box to ever get the best from his players. In a short series Don Nelson never had a problem either beating a superior team or making them suffer with whatever he had on his bench. He could draw up defensive schemes to disrupt the game plans of far better teams. His defeats of superior Utah, San Antonio and Dallas teams are the highlights of twenty years of Warriors basketball. His Bucks teams shocked the Larry Bird Celtics by sweeping them in four games. Did any other coach do this? His “We Believe” team’s sprint to the playoffs and stunning upset of the Dallas Mavericks was perhaps the most exciting two months of basketball in Warrior’s history. That is the challenge for Kerr, no doubt he understands the game but can he get the maximum out of every player and win when he does not have the better players? Warriors fans watched inferior teams with undersized and undermanned benches out perform the opposition for years. Hardaway, Richmond, Marciulionis, Mullin and Higgins formed a lethal lineup that played hard and exciting basketball every night. But could you realistically expect that lineup to take on the “Showtime” Lakers whose point guard was taller than anyone on the Warriors? Yet they did and made un-winnable games close and even stole a few from the a team featuring the best of the best. Coach Kerr inherits a team far more skilled with more depth than any team Nelson ever coached in the Bay Area. Expectations will be higher and justly so. Time will tell if he can do more with the team than expected or if he is like most of his generation just as good as you expect them to be no better no worse. Jackson’s total inability to maximize the offensive talents of this team was disgusting to old Warrior fans used to staggering offensive numbers from teams filled with D-league players and one or two legitimate NBA stars. The Monta Ellis Warriors in Nelson’s last year with only rookie Steve Curry and five healthy shall we say bodies finished second in offensive production that year in the NBA. What Kerr does with a roster full of stars will be quickly seen to be either folly or exceptional. The Bay Area fans know offense and are waiting for Coach Kerr to show what this team can do. The owners on the other hand are showing a clear prejudice for the conventional as well. Though they have hired good players (for the most part but oddly claiming the signing of Andre Iguodala was the roster move of the century Monta Ellis and D. Blair could have been signed for far less and would have led to many more wins) and good assistant coaches, their choices for head coach can only be called mundane. Clearly they wanted Kerr because NBA legend Jackson in NYC wanted him. But Phil Jackson wanted to teach Kerr to coach. So it will be interesting to see who plays better the well coached Cavaliers with a proven offensive star coach or the Warriors with a Michael Jordan generation side kick. In that they could have had Blatt for less than half of what they paid Kerr his hiring says more about them than they realize. As a final note the Michael Jordan generation prejudice of the owner’s is evident in their handling of JIm Barnett. Barnett is easily the best color man in the NBA. The only announcers to rival him and Papa in their heyday are Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith. Bob Fitzgerald is terrible and no one I know likes his style, in fact I have to mute him often because of his repeatedly inane and repetitive lines. Tim Roye on radio is hardly much better, but you can’t be worse than Fitzgerald and you can’t mute the radio. Papa wastes away as the pre game host of the Warriors. Bringing him back to work with Barnett would be the best thing to happen to the Warriors since the We Believe run. But Barnett is the wrong age so the owners are planning to get rid of him. Only a monstrous surge of opposition from their fans stopped that move this year, but you can count on some Michael Jordan fan being in his seat next year. The owners are suffering from a huge case of agism.