Seven Things to Expect from David Blatt

Lennart Preiss

UPDATE 6/19/14 from Woj. I'd guess he'll go for the head coach job.

In a bold move, the Cleveland Cavaliers have offered Euroleague icon David Blatt their head-coaching job, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Cavaliers and Blatt's representatives are in the process of negotiating terms of a deal, but no agreement has been reached, sources said.

UPDATE 6/16/14 from Adrian Woj:

The Cleveland Cavaliers plan to interview David Blatt for their head coaching job on Wednesday in Cleveland, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Unless the Cavaliers move quickly to hire Blatt upon meeting him, there's a strong belief within the Golden State Warriors and some close to Blatt that he'll accept a job as Steve Kerr's top assistant. Kerr seems willing to give Blatt the opportunity to push his process with Cleveland into mid-week, but it's doubtful that Kerr will go much longer than that without pushing Blatt for a commitment, sources said.


Well, no one has a real idea, right? We don't which job he'll take and we don't know how Kerr will use his coaches. But this is the Internet, so I won't let that stop me. Here are some notes I've collected on him.

In short, I am very excited about this potential get. It seems clear that Blatt has strength in the areas the Warriors need to focus on: offensive flexibility and flow, and getting the most out of the bench. He would be a great assistant coach for one or two years.

1. He has been very successful in Europe and is ready to move to the NBA.

He was born in Boston and played at Princeton under Pete Carril (more on this below) and he is absolutely the hottest coach in Europe, just off a Cinderella run with Maccabi Tel Aviv to win the Euroleague title.

"Maccabi was outgunned at every position except coach," said one admiring Western Conference general manager who attended the Euroleague Final Four. "David took down two Goliaths in a weekend. He belongs in the NBA."

- Marc Stein

This was his third shot at the Final Four and he finally broke through. This means he can walk away knowing he achieved his goals.

He also coached Russia to a bronze in the 2012 Summer Olympics (as well as many other trophies) which is damned impressive considering he finished behind the US and Spain, full of NBA players, with a group getting the most of NBA players Shved, Mozgov and old Kirilenko.

2. He'll only come for a head coach position or a quick stepping stone to a head coach position.

Given that he's so successful, he won't come to the NBA unless it's to be a head coach or for a stepping-stone assistant coach position.

Blatt elicits strong reactions from people -- good and bad. One agent referred to him as an egomaniac. Another thinks he could be the next Larry Brown. -

So, the guy rightfully has an ego. Here are the possible job offers:

  • Cleveland. He will interview next week for the head coach position. There is probably more money and power in the Cleveland job, but a disaster of an organization and a very awkward and young roster. Huge risk and a possibly unwinnable scenario for a coach. He is a control type and the Cavs are full of question marks and long term projects.
  • Minnesota. It was reported that Flip Saunders wants him as assistant coach and he claims he would groom Blatt to be his successor. But MIN also lots of turmoil and a departing star. Also, MIN just hired Sidney Lowe to be Flip's assistant coach again, so it's possible they are out of the running.
  • Atlanta? Mentioned in one tweet, but I've heard zippo about this elsewhere.
  • The Good Guys. It's clear that the Warriors have made him a huge offer to be Steve Kerr's right hand man, since he wouldn't have announced that he's leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv without a job offer in hand. The Warriors job is the best one for a transition to the NBA. It's the Mike Malone plan where you come install a creative offense and get some attention while you learn the culture of the coaching and the players. If the Ws succeed, get a lot of credit, if they bomb, well, blame Kerr. Then the next year or in two years, let teams get into a bidding war for you.

3. He is a very skilled offensive coach and knows the Princeton Offense.

Blatt's team led the Israeli BSL in points per game (83.06) during the 2013-14 campaign, per Efficient shooting ruled the day, as the 49.8 field-goal percentage was the No. 1 mark as well.

It's the third year in a row that Maccabi has paced the league in both categories. - Bleacher Report

He played in the Princeton Offense, under Pete Carril. The key ideas there are lots of off-ball motion (especially back cuts), much spacing with a passing big in a 4-out 1-in formation, many picks, and continuity, meaning the plays often ends the way it starts so you can loop it again if the first try is stopped, with personnel in different positions. You can see these ideas connect with many of Kerr's stated ideas. But the classic Princeton Offense doesn't really play in the NBA, as you need too much teamwork, IQ and all-around good shooting by personnel. The Sacramento Kings were the most prominent Princeton-type offense, in the Chris Webber days. Modern versions include pick and roll.

4. He is flexible.

Despite the Princeton inspiration and general devotion to spread offense with three point shooting, he seems to be flexible, taking advantage of guards who can penetrate.

For instance, it's interesting to look at this, his reported favorite play (starts at 0:14).

I'll narrate it using Warriors personnel (let a guy dream). It begins with a Princeton-ish 4-out, 1-in formation with Klay throwing it into the high post (Draymond Green). Klay cuts from the right elbow through the paint off a pick from Bogut on the left low block, ending up in the corner for 3. If that's not there, it flows into a dribble pitch by Draymond to Curry into a high pick and pop. If there's no 3 or Green's not open for 3, this flows directly into a high Curry-Bogut pick and roll.

Notice the big passing, the double screen for Curry who enters the pick and pop or pick and roll with velocity so people can't swarm him.

This season’s Maccabi Tel-Aviv team has gone through the season without a traditional power forward in its rotation, playing wing oriented players at the four position. While many viewed Maccabi’s lack of a power forward as a disadvantage, Coach Blatt implemented a system that resembles that of the current Miami Heat, and the Brooklyn Nets since New Year’s Eve. Playing with four men out, and one man in, they have found a way to use the added spacing to their advantage, and have found a balance that empowers their personnel. Of interest to you, Blatt has found ways to find advantages for his wing players in the post, a staple of the triangle offense, and a concept that you have previously embraced, which will surely be crucial with the current Knicks roster. - AJ Mitnick

"During the season we realized that we have different player permutations that we can use according to how the game develops," says Blatt. "We had to work hard in training in order to help the players come prepared for the changes during a game – that we want to play one way with one lineup, and a different way with other players. They were prepared to accept such a system. Those who come to watch us – and I invite a lot of coaches – will see the great mental preparation that we invest in teaching and talking to the players. They know what is expected of them and understand how things are done here."

"Specifically regarding basketball, it very much depends on the roster available. You cannot work with all the team according to the same system. You have to be flexible and not one-dimensional regarding the type of talent and character you have at your disposal. The rules have to be clear and known to all. You have to demand from the players that they give their all both in offense and defense. In practice you prepare them for battles in the short term, and especially in the long term." - Haaretz

Blatt has taken a team that is far weaker on paper than its Euroleague counterparts and gotten it to embrace and combine two distinctively different brands of basketball to near perfection. Maccabi typically starts the game with Sofoklis Schortsanitis, focusing the offense around early post-ups, and looking again to Sofo late in the shot clock. When Sofo heads to the bench, Tyus comes in to play the role of Amar’e Stoudemire in a Suns-style offense, running many pick-and-rolls with shooters spreading the floor.

The common theme of these distinctive styles is the constant presence of outstanding 3-point shooters. Playing without a traditional power forward, Maccabi has David Blu, a guy who has nailed so many clutch 3-pointers in his career that basically every Israeli coach has had at least five nightmares caused by him. Blu may be one of the nicest guys off the floor, but the second the ball goes up, he is a ferocious competitor with absolutely no conscience. He is exactly the type of player to come into a game and make a bunch of deep 3-pointers to grab a Cinderella win.

In addition to Blu, Maccabi has All-Euroleague guard Ricky Hickman, a dynamic backcourt player who rose from UNC-Asheville and playing in small leagues to one of the top guards outside the NBA. The dynamic play of Hickman will be a big key for Maccabi to advance. - AJ Mitnick, previewing the Euroleague Final Four (won in an upset by Blatt's crew).

5. He uses bench and his teams use the press.

This season in Maccabi, Blatt has led a group that over 60 games into the season (the Israeli league playoffs are still going on) has a leading scorer averaging 11 points a game, but a whopping 11 players averaging 6 points or more.

Throughout Blatt’s time with Maccabi, it has been abundantly clear that his players have little interest in their stats or individual glory, and have organizationally embraced valuing the success of the club over individual achievements.

In my time as an assistant coach with Maccabi Rishon Lezion over the past three seasons, we have had the opportunity to play against a Blatt-coached Maccabi Tel-Aviv team 10 times, including in the 2012 Israeli Cup Final and the 2014 Israeli Cup semifinal.

I believe most coaches in both the Israeli League and the Euroleague would agree that the selflessness and team mentality make preparing to play against them extremely difficult. Maccabi typically has more than 10 players getting significant rotation minutes, with every player a genuine threat to be that night’s most important player. Even if you can find keys from the stats or video to try to gain an advantage, their togetherness allows the sun to shine on someone new on any given day. - AJ Mitnick

"With him the Russian team got a face," Kirilenko said of Blatt. "We don't have a great scorer, but we're going to have a team game. We're going to have a great team defensively, we're going to have a press, and we glue it together." - Sports Illustrated.

6. He is driven and a little crazy.

"David knows how to prepare a team. Period," says Ohayon. "His scouting is meticulous, down to the smallest detail." - Haaretz

He witnessed China's Yi Jianlian drive the baseline for a dunk last Tuesday, a play that had no discernible effect on the game's outcome. But Blatt had conditioned his players to force plays up from the baseline, so he erupted at their failure.

"If I'm doing things in practice every day for months and months and I'm a micro guy, what do you want me to do?" he said. "I don't give a damn what the score is. That's important to me because the next time that happens the score may not be 20, it may be two. So I'm out there fighting for that moment, that point, and people always say to me -- and it's really fair -- why are you upset?'"

In a loud whisper, he went on, "I don't give a [expletive] about the score. I want to do things right. Because I know to do one thing and another thing and another thing and another thing right, you're going to win. And if you let that go, then sooner or later it's going to bite you on the butt and you're not going to win. That's how I am. Other guys, they see things macro -- oh, that's cool, I can live with that. And you know what, they live longer. They sleep better. They don't get wrinkles and probably have happier lives. But what can I do? That's the way God made me.'' - Sports Illustrated

7. He will be an awesome assistant coach if he wants to be. As a head coach...?

Carril, who worked as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings, said that Blatt could surely succeed in the N.B.A but that he was worried the N.B.A. culture might not accept him.

"In the N.B.A., what I found out, it’s more important to have a name when you say something than it is what you say," Carril said. "It’s kind of ridiculous." - NY Times

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!

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