Tuesday, June 3, 2008

NELSON RETURNS. HERE TO STAY BEYOND 2009?


He's baaaack. After spending some time in his Maui home, Nelson has confirmed to the Warriors organization that he will be back for the 2008-2009 season. Now he is in Oakland helping prepare for the upcoming draft. In Don Nelson's latest interview with San Francisco Chronicle's Janny Hu, he said something very interesting:
It will be his 29th season on the sidelines, and Nelson, who needs 53 wins to surpass Lenny Wilkens as the NBA's all-time winningest coach, wouldn't rule out coaching beyond next season.

"If they're happy and I'm happy, we might do it more, you know? Larry Brown's older than me and just took a four-year job," said Nelson, who actually is four months older than Brown, but that's splitting gray hairs.
What seemed like a foregone conclusion that the upcoming season would be the last for the Don, he now opens up the possibility of continuing Nelliball crusade beyond 2009. Basketball is in his blood, it pays well, and he is likely one and a half seasons away from surpassing Lenny Wilkins. He might not seem like the type of person that would care about any coaching record, but deep down inside, anybody as close to the record as Nelson has to want to leave the game known as being one of the best to ever coach the game of basketball. That would seem like enough motivation to keep going for another 2 to 3 years before moving to the front office.

There are a lot of Warrior fans that are disenchanted with Nelliball because of the perceived limitations, gimmickry, it's historical lack of success in the post-season, and last years finish. True, it is unconventional - but it is a fascinating style of basketball that in theory, could win over traditional play if the right players are on the roster and everyone is committed to playing 100% every minute they are on the floor. The Phoenix Suns came within an Amare suspension from possibly winning the Finals so there definitely is hope for Nelliball to succeed. I would love to continue Nelliball with the following conditions:
  1. fully utilize a deeper bench that would allow starters to play all-out and not worry about having to save their energy for the 4th quarter
  2. accountability for poor defensive effort
  3. accountability for deviation from Nelliball principals (must pass, move without the ball, take the open/high percentage shot, look for early offense, fast break at every opportunity, no over-dribbling, play smart, play fast)
  4. run plays for the big men and don't abandon them if they are hitting at a high rate of success
  5. if three's aren't falling, take it to the hole
  6. continue to work on breaking the 'zone' defense
  7. commitment to development along the way
  8. the additional of a big low post player that specializes in rebounding and shot blocking and has the ability to somewhat contain the likes of Boozer, Duncan, and Amare
  9. acquiring additional Nelliball players that are athletic, versatile (play more than 1 position), ball handling scorers that excel in 3 of 4 areas: 3 point shooting, steals, shot blocking, rebounding
  10. if minutes are heavy for the vets, allow them to be rested whenever possible - holding them out for games against 'easy' opponents or pulling them off the court early if there is a comfortable lead
  11. manage Baron's rest time such that recovery time is maximized (i.e. resting end of 1st to beginning of 2nd
That's a long list, but that's the start of what needs to be done in order for Nellieball to be a viable winning style in the NBA. We might not ever win a title without that special inside presence (could Wright + Beidrins be the guys?) but we'll sure have a lot of fun trying.

We have only 5 players under contract (Harrington, Jackson, Wright, Belinelli, Perovic), 3 locks to return (Davis, Ellis, Beidrins), 1 likely return (Azubuike after likely opt-out), and 3 possible returns (Barnes, Pietrus, Watson). 9 rosters are pretty much spoken for, so Mullin will have to figure out who (if any) he wants back out of the '3 possible returns', how he will use the #14 and #49 picks, whether to use the $10m T.E. on a veteran player, how to use the M.L.E. and Bi-annual Exception, and who else to sign on minimum deals.

PG: Davis/?/?
SG: Ellis/Azubuike/Belinelli
SF: Jackson/?/?
PF: Wright/Harrington/?
C: Biedrins/Perovic/?

We have three +20 point scorers, a quality center, a young athletic PF, a sharp shooter, and a versatile big with 3 point range. Add to that players that fit the Nellieball mold and a big to shake things up when things aren't working so smoothly, we have a good chance at beating any team in the league.

It's going to be a very interesting offseason and the Nelly news was a great start.

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