According to certain basketball-related web sites and so-called “stats gurus” who operate them, the work of Flip Saunders has not been the main source of the different problems experienced by the Washington Wizards during his tenure with the team:
Flip Gets the Blame … Again
The Wizards are really, really bad this year. Because of the team’s lack of success, it made a desperation move and fired its coach, Flip Saunders. But Saunders wasn’t the problem. The problem is that the team is riddled with bad players. And the team’s management has failed to remedy this problem by holding on to the bad players. Thus, Washington will continue to be bad in the absence of Saunders unless its management starts making good decisions. Unfortunately firing Flip doesn’t signal that the management understands this. Flip has been fired several times thanks to unrealistic expectations. While good moves can make a franchise good, unrealistic expectations seem to lead to bad franchises and fired coaches.
This is simple hogwash.
A more accurate interpretation of what has actually happened to the different teams coached by Flip Saunders, to this point in his career as a coach in the NBA, runs along the following lines:
i. Saunders’ Minnesota Timberwolves did not go further in the Western Conference Playoffs than the collective talent level of the players on their roster allowed;
ii. Saunders’ Detroit Pistons did not go further in the Eastern Conference Playoffs than the collective talent level of the players on their roster allowed; and,
iii. Saunders’ Washington Wizards have not finished higher in the Eastern Conference than the collective talent of the players on their roster has allowed;
primarily because he was, and is, not an authentic elite level basketball coach … with the ability to extract MORE wins from his team than just their collective talent level will produce, relative to their peers … in spite of being a very knowledgeable basketball coach, in terms of X’s and O’s.
Although the overall talent level of the players on the Wizards’ roster this year is not where it needs to be in order to compete effectively for a Top 4 position in the Eastern Conference,
Initial Assessment of Team Rosters in the NBA’s Eastern Conference
there is actually more than enough NBA-level talent on their roster at-present to allow this team to compete effectively for a lower tier playoff position … if it is coached by an authentic elite level practicioner, e.g. Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, Stan Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, etc., who has the vision, acumen and ability to inculcate discipline to the individual players on his roster within the framework of the team.
Unfortunately for Wizards’ fans moving forward – at least, in the short term future – it is also the case that the team’s new interim head coach, Randy Wittman, does not fit properly into this important category [i.e. an authentic elite level basketball coach], as well … and Ernie Grunfeld [GM] will most likely need to be held accountable for repeatedly making poor managerial decisions like this one.