Summoning my inner Andy Rooney, here are some things that I’m going to nitpick on.
Say “screw it,” join Amar’e on the Knicks, run some great pick-and-rolls, make a lot of money, possibly become the A-Rod of basketball, win relatively few playoff games.
OK so it’s supposed to be a tongue in cheek remark primarily for humor, but there’s an ounce of truth to every joke. This swipe at D’Antoni’s playoff record riles me up, because under the surface it’s an extension of the cliche [only] defense wins championships. The common wisdom is that D’Antoni doesn’t care about defense, but according to Kevin Pelton, “D’Antoni’s teams have never been the defensive liabilities they were made out to be in the media.” Additionally implying that offensive minded coaches don’t win championships ignores the contrary. There are lots of defensive minded coaches that were unsuccessful in the playoffs: Mike Fratello, P.J. Carlesimo, Doug Collins. Larry Brown coached for 21 years until he finally won an NBA championship.
Every year there are 29 coaches that end the season without a new ring, so the inability to win a championship isn’t strictly a D’Antoni trait. The other LeBron-a-thon coaches have the same issues. Is Byron Scott a playoff risk because he was unable to win a title in New Jersey or couldn’t get out of the second round in New Orleans? Avery Johnson’s playoff record is worse than D’Antoni’s. In only 3 seasons, he managed to have back to back first round exits. One of those teams won an astonishing 67 games during the regular season.
This is a good acquisition, for the Magic. A very, very good one, I’d say; and that’s coming from someone who has spent a good chunk of this decade ruing Duhon’s very presence and the strange hold he had on a very good (but very flawed) pro basketball coach and the resulting minutes allotment with a team located in the American Midwest. Chris can play, he can pick up plays very quickly, and he gives good effort.
To give Dwyer credit, the majority of his article is about how bad Duhon is. Nevertheless I could be convinced that Orlando signing him as a backup PG is a decent move. A solid move. A safe move. But a “very, very good one?” No way. If Nelson misses a chunk of time this year their fans are going to hate Duhon. If it happens deep in the playoffs, they’re screwed. The PG depth in free agency isn’t much, but compared to Felton & Ridnour, Duhon is awful. And let’s be blunt, Felton & Ridnour aren’t all that great themselves.
Playoff teams usually play it safe, instead of taking risks. Instead of choosing a PG that could win a playoff game, they went with one that they hope won’t lose one. They might not have landed one of the guys above, but maybe they could have gotten a player like Jordan Farmar. Compared to Duhon, Farmar is 4 years younger, a better defender, scores twice as many points with a sizable advantage in efficiency (TS% 53.5% to 50.1%).
[Note: I highly respect the work of Krolik and Dwyer. For instance Krolik’s most recent piece on LeBron James is stunningly beautiful and well thought out. It’s a prime example of what blogs do right, that newspapers get wrong. Newspapers have been focusing on the rumors, speculation, and hoopla. Krolik is quite reasonable and gets to the heart of the matter, in a profound manner. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t read Ball Don’t Lie to get Dwyer’s keen opinion on any transaction or event in the league.]