Head Coach Tournament: Tom Thibodeau v. Alvin Gentry

Published: May 25, 2015

In Round Two, we’ll be projecting what we think a coach would want as a line-up – using our players, or, if likely, players they may ask Dell to target.

The Case for Tom Thibodeau

by: Ryan Schwan

To view the previous bracket with Tom Thibodeau, click here. 

One thing matters in Tom Thibodeau’s world.  Defense.  Conservative, precision defense.  There must be a big capable of closing the paint.  There must be a high-minutes wing capable of a little offense and that wing must make the rotations at the right time and place every time to keep the perimeter defense as watertight as a whale’s arsehole.

This means, unless Jordan is somehow available, Asik will be back with little debate.  The Thibodeau defense takes months to assimilate – and Asik was introduced to the NBA in that very system.  This also means that everyone’s favorite wrecking ball, Tyreke Evans, will probably take the long walk.  Evans’ inability to make the right rotations all the time will make him borderline unplayable by Thibs – and that means the team must find a different sort of wing.  If there was some way to swing trades or sign Carroll, Matthews or Batum, I am sure that would be done in an instant – but the most likely would be some sort of deal that sent out Evans and brought back Loul Deng, who quietly had a nice season in Miami.  Again, defensive familiarity and perfection of execution is what matters.

The only other typical role Thibodeau has routinely liked is a small, quick shoot-first point guard that can simply attack second units and cause havoc while his main guys rest.  Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills, Bayless (Not Jimmer) – these guys can be had cheaply.

Offensively, Thibodeau has always tried to use power forwards who can be a bit stretchy – using Boozer, Gasol, and Mirotic in those roles.  He will happily find a role for Anderson in that case, and – this last bit will surprise you – run the offense through Davis hands.  Thibs likes to run a pick and roll to get the big the ball at the elbow moving towards the basket.  If clear, that big blitzes the rim, if not, they pause and the offense flexes around the elbow.  Either the off-guard will set a pick for the big and flare – or cutters will go through the middle to try to force the big’s guy to fade a little and give him room.

Davis would thrive in that offense.  Noah played this role last year and was dropping dimes like crazy because he was a small threat to drive and score.  Imagine if Davis was filling that role.  The pressure on the defense to account for him would force double teams – which would allow the team to move the ball side to side and kick off the second part of Thibs offense – the wing assault on the paint. (filled by Rose or Butler in Chicago)

There is no question a Thibs team won’t be a fast-moving team.  They will, however, play crushing, tight defense, and cater to Davis’ development as a creative and primary option.

I would take that in a heartbeat.

The Case for Alvin Gentry

by: Chris Romaguera

To view the previous bracket with Alvin Gentry, click here. 

Alvin Gentry has been on the staff of the last two number one rated offenses in the NBA. The last time he had a head coaching job, in his first year, he took a 40+ win team and led them to the Western Conference Finals. Those are two trends he’d like to continue.

Gentry’s teams play with a faster pace, and will probe the defense early. Not 7 seconds or less, but 12 seconds or fewer. Based on how the Clippers used Griffin in his year there, Gentry will give the ball to Anthony Davis early, and let him probe the defense. Davis will work a lot out of horns, and be a triple threat from 16 feet from the basket.

Jrue Holiday will also greatly be utilized, with his ability to run a pick and roll and fire from beyond the arc at a solid rate off the bounce will keep opposing defenses honest. Gentry’s teams utilize the pick and roll often, and you can expect Gentry to get a lot out of pick and rolls with Holiday and Davis. Holiday’s ability to hit threes off the dribble, as well as find open teammates, is exactly what Gentry looks for in a point guard. Eric Gordon also fits Gentry’s system perfectly, and can fill the role of Klay Thompson for Gentry. In an interesting twist, Gordon signed the offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns in 2012 when Gentry was their head coach, so the two are quite familiar with each other, with both valuing the other (Gordon specifically cited Gentry as one of the reasons he had wanted to go to Phoenix after signing the offer sheet.)

As for additions, a bigger wing who can cover multiple positions would be a priority. Gentry was an assistant during Shawn Marion’s prime, when he covered nearly anyone on the court. For the Warriors, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala have been crucial. Dream list wise, a wing like Tobias Harris would be perfect, for he continues to get better at shooting, can dribble drive, defend multiple positions, and rebounds extremely well. DeMarre Carrol is another strong option. With Holiday, Davis, and Harris/Carroll, Gentry can implement a switch heavy defense similar to the one Golden State used this year.

A deep bench is also key to Gentry, based off of his Suns teams (which unearthed Goran Dragic) and this Warriors team. This Warriors team has two players under rookie contracts, so expect the team to start keeping draft picks in order to fit valuable players under the cap. You may also see some role players added from Gentry’s past, such as Jared Dudley.


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