Mike D'Antoni is a coach who loves to run. There is nothing closer to such a coach's heart, than a big man who can rebound and make the outlet pass - the birth of the fast break; a play that brings such beauty and magnificence to the game, hence the overwhelming "loyalty" of the Warrior fan base. David Lee is a player who can grant such a fantasy. Is this why Coach D played Lee out of position at center, while his team rotted defensively? All signs point to yes. Surely, Mike should have recognized the handicap he was assigning himself, by weakening probably the most essential defensive position in the sport, right? Wrong. If offense is a coach's livelihood, he will exterminate any plausible reasoning concerning defense, if it comes between he and his beloved, his pride - the offense.
Don Nelson is a running coach. He is now bestowed the gift of such a (Center?) power forward in David Lee. How will he use David? Interestingly enough, there was yet another gift presented in (power forward?) small forward Dorell Wright. Dorell is a player who is 6-9, which indirectly translates to some coaches, as "capable of playing power forward", due to his length. Wright is an excellent rebounder - another reason to justify hastily thrusting him out of position . He is very good at making solid interior passes, and he has a jump shot. This means that he can be an effective player out of the post, and allow a scorer like Lee the space to do his handiwork. In theory, he and Lee are ideal teammates at these positions, within a run-and-gun offense.
Where does this leave Andris Biedrins?
A fine question, indeed. Not only does Biedrins remain a Warrior, but remains so while being a "disgruntled" player who has clearly shown a distaste for Coach Nelson. If Biedrins by some chance wasn't in Nelson's doghouse then, he surely is now after publicly voicing disgust. Of course Don Nelson would laugh that off if you asked him about it. But Andris is in clear and present danger of becoming a bench player, logging well under 28 minutes a game. Why? Not only does this allow Nelson to play Lee at center to orchestrate the break, not only does it allow him to use Dorell as a point forward 4, spreading the court with his shot, but it also enables him the famous "Nellie 3-guard lineup", in Curry, Ellis, and Williams playing 1-3.
Andris Biedrins, a fiery player who's production is fueled by energy and movement, would not resemble his true self in this situation. His production would plummet, poorly reflecting on his big contract, and his discontent may even allow players like Gadzuric or Radmonavic to see more time on the court. This can be a recipe for disaster, as we'd be put in a position where we'd be lucky to receive an expiring contract for him, as Nelson has more creditability in the eyes of the league, than an Andris Biedrins. The problem will not be attributed to Nelson, when objectively valuing Biedrins' talents as a player. His performances would be uninspired, hindering us from making advantageous adjustments, and he'd spiral further down the rabbit hole.
Don Nelson allowed Monta Ellis to run rampant last season. In all likelihood, he asked him to. If Ellis does not change his approach, regardless of the improvement of Curry or the acquisition of Lee, how effective would Nelson really be in influencing Ellis to turn in his badge? Wouldn't that be a bit hypocritical in Ellis' eyes? How can Nelson effectively communicate, "I know last season I said you were our best player and I put the ball in your hands in virtually every situation, but just simmer down. We've got better players than you this time around." I don't know if that kind of respect exists between these two men. My guess is, it doesn't.
I once went to the Warriors HQ downtown, to sit in for a job interview. I was told by the clerk to have a seat and wait about 10 minutes. I could hear the Warriors practicing behind the big twin doors that led into the facility. It was around this time when Keith Smart came strolled into the room and greeted everybody in the office by name. He looked at me without recognition, and extended his hand, grinning. "How you doin young fella? I'm Keith Smart." I shook his hand and said, "I know who you are!". He asked me if I was waiting for an interview and then asked me if I was nervous. I said I was. He told me I had nothing to worry about and to just stay calm and be myself. He gave me a quick pat and a wink and said, "I'm sure I'll be seeing you around young man, catch you later". Then he said goodbye to everybody again as he walked out.
I don't think he is the kind of man who would scoff at the idea of leading the team under the new ownership for one year, as an interim coach. He's humble. I can't imagine Smart saying, "No, I want a full ride because I deserve it." At the same time, I don't see Lacob as doing him any disservice by giving him a shot at coaching a team that is destined to win many more games than it did the previous year. Either way, Smart would come out of this smelling like a rose. He should not have a difficult time eventually finding another HC job, if not immediately, and during his tenure, Lacob can observe the roster and make some phone calls in search of "our guy".
Keith Smart is known for his defense. If you want to play good, consistent defense, you have to play a conventional line-up. This returns us to the prospect of our initial desired line up of:
Players win games, not coaches. All the coaches need to do, is put the players in position to do so. Regardless of Don Nelson's experience and knowledge, Smart can do a better job of this, hence allowing us more wins. I think given the natural chemistry of our team, in relation to how they play individually, Smart will have to do less coordinating on offense, and can focus more on teaching them to improve defensively - actually holding players accountable.
In conclusion, here are my reasons why I think Smart will help us if he took over.
How he helps
1. He is young and energetic. His vitality will bring these players together. He has the energy to run 3 hour practices and watch film. Nelson would not do this.
2. The players know him. When you're a head coach, it's tough to get all the players to buy into your philosophy. Being familiar and liked by half the team, should give him an edge towards converting newcomers.
3. He is more inclined to play a traditional style. With a more traditional roster now, it's time we take a step away from small ball, and move towards playing conventionally. He must do this with his lineups if he plans to be effective defensively - something his style dictates.
4. Lacob will likely sign him for a cheap, 1-2 year contract, softening the blow of unloading Nelson's contract.
5. When Smart is done, there will be less to no pressure of keeping him around because he's a great assistant and does his job thoroughly. He should have gained enough glory from running the improvement of the team, and he could go elsewhere and set up his own staff, rather than simply staying here and stepping back down to his assistant position. Lacob can then pick a coach who can come in and bring his own staff of assistants with him, instead of making Lacob look like a bad guy for inevitably being in the position to fire Keith Smart, as the new head coach will likely prefer his own minions.
6. Politically, it gains Lacob reputation for being a generous and loyal owner. Not only will this bode well for Smart, but the insiders will talk amongst themselves to other players, and once this accumulated word gets out come free agency time, players will consider such talk when Lacob comes a knocking at their door with a blank dotted line. He needs to build his image into a positive one. This move helps.
How he can hurt us
1. Smart is inexperienced. There is some concern about the kind rotations and timely substitutions he's made. He was working under the influence of Nelson before, but it would be interesting to see how he would proceed on his own.
2. Does he know how to design effective plays to take what the defense gives him? Personally, I'm not too worried about this. If he can run an open offense, if he can allow players to man their natural positions, he'll be fine. Stephen Curry is a floor general, and when you have a player who knows how to generate the offense on his own, a coach becomes less and less important in his direction. Just give them the blueprint(which even I could do) and allow Curry to make the decisions.