dougthonus wrote:Let me rephrase the argument about Atkinson this way using two comparisons:
Doc Rivers - Rivers took an Orlando team and immediately improved it. They didn't have a ton of talent really, but he had them playing .500 ball. It isn't exactly the same because he went from 33 to 42 wins in year 1, whereas Atkinson took 3 years, but started off in a worse spot, but somewhat similar. Rivers failed to move the needle on the Magic over the years though and was eventually fired. He was picked up later by Boston, won a title, and is now viewed as a great coach.
Scott Skiles - Skiles took over a really bad Bulls team and immediately got them to 47 wins. When you look at the core of that team, it seems even more impressive in retrospective. More or less every key piece of that team outside of Tyson Chandler had their best years under Skiles (Curry, Hinrich, Gordon, Nocioni, etc..). However, Skiles couldn't sustain any success, burnt out quickly, and had a similar outcome in his next stop. No one looks at Skiles as a good coaching candidate so far.
My only point on Atkinson, is the type of success he has had so far is actually fairly common. There are many coaches that start with something really bad and get to average, especially if they have three years. The law of averages tends to force all teams towards the mean. A bad team tends to get better. Whether Atkinson was the key component of that improvement or not or whether he could replicate that elsewhere or whether he could scale to go from average to good is an entirely different thing.
Maybe Atkinson is the next Doc Rivers which is amazing and maybe he is the next Scott Skiles, a guy who's fine for a few years but basically someone you'd view as replacement level as a coach. I'm only stating both these possibilities exist. Skiles achievement in 04/05 actually stands out to me as much bigger than what Atkinson did in comparison.
I think Atkinson is a totally viable candidate just like Skiles/Rivers were totally viable candidates after their Bulls/Magic stints. Bring him in and interview him. I wouldn't be scared or bummed if we hired him. I just don't see it as a can't miss hire either.
Doug, bro, most of us like you here and usually, you make amazing points. I think most peeps know what you are saying. I just think most disagree in this instance. I don't think most peeps are saying that they are very confident Atkinson is a HOF coach or anything close to that. I think most people agree that bad records sometimes reflect badly on a coach. However, sometimes there are exceptions. For example, Bill Belichick was 36-44 when he was coach at the Cleveland Browns. Steve Kerr was abysmal this year with Golden State and a lot of that was based on lack of talent. Luke Walton was amazing as interim for Warriors a few years ago when Kerr was sidelined. Phil Jackson had absolutely loaded teams that other coaches could not win a chip with. Rick Carlisle won a chip with Dallas when Avery Johnson could not. Thibs record in Minnesota without Jimmy was not very good. I am saying this not to say Atkinson is a HOF coach, but that using a record of the first 2 years of a very bad talent laden team is hard to tell a coaching chops resume. So I think most people are saying, look at what he did in year 3 was taking a team in most opinion's that is not playoff caliber even in a weak East and getting the 6 seed. Look at how some of these players progressed. Could it have been a fluke year - yes it could have been, but how much these players progressed, how hard they played, etc... showed promise.
Looking at this year, can you blame how bad the Nets were on coaching? I don't know. They had several injuries and honestly signed a supreme and injured diva in Kyrie. Almost everywhere Kyrie has gone he has made a team worse sans when he was 2nd alpha to Lebron. Celtics could not wait to get rid of him. They were better without him than with him. Cleveland before Lebron with Kyrie was terrible. Kyrie is extremely talented, but is a team destroyer as 1st alpha. Gosh, they are going to be hard to coach those egos when Durant comes back. Durant though is so good, he will make them better.
I think in this instance, I can see the promise in Atkinson. I don't think he is my first choice or most peeps first choice, but he has shown promise. Is he a good coach - I don't know. However, can we all agree to just disagree?