One of Nelson's top coaching campaigns?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 2:14 pm
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, April 6, 2007

Houston -- Warriors coach Don Nelson has had better seasons, many of them right here with Golden State. He's turned Milwaukee around and taken Dallas from a 16-win team into a 60-win title contender.

And yet, with the Warriors scratching just to stay in the playoff race, assistant Larry Riley, who's been by Nelson's side for the last six years, ranks this season as one of Nelson's top campaigns.

"When you go back and look at what we started with," Riley said, "With (Jason Richardson) on the injured list and not really getting going until he got back after the broken hand, the other injuries, the personnel we were dealing with, and assimilating the trades guys, it's one of his better coaching jobs."

It's April, after all, and Warriors are still in the playoff hunt with seven games to go. Though their postseason fate is out of their control -- even if they win the rest of their games, the Clippers or Nuggets still need to lose for Golden State's postseason drought to end -- Nelson has replaced false hope with a sense of purpose.

Since Baron Davis returned from knee surgery on Mar. 5, the Warriors have won 10 of their last 14 games. They've knocked off Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix and Houston, and put together three different three-game winning streaks. With a victory over Memphis tonight, the Warriors can even win their fourth straight for the first time since a five-game streak in November.

Project that 10-4 record out to 82 games, and that's 58 wins. The Warriors aren't brash enough to suggest they'll horde that many next season, but producing the franchise's first winning record in a dozen years -- or since Nelson's departure -- is a target as legitimate as making the playoffs.

"If we have everybody," Richardson said, "I think we could be a 5 or a 6 seed, maybe a 4. Forty-five, 50 (wins), I think we could do that. We got the team. We got the players."

Ten weeks have passed since Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson arrived, but only a month since they started playing alongside Richardson and Davis. And it's only in the last three weeks that Nelson has felt comfortable enough to pull out his gimmick defenses and lineups.

Against the Mavericks, they threw Dirk Nowitzki's timing off by sending an extra defender at him as soon as he caught the ball or made his first move. Against the Suns, they matched their small lineup and unveiled Harrington as the starting center. Against the Rockets, they fronted Yao Ming and ran the 7-5 center right off the court.

Offensively, Nelson has actually simplified things. He started off training camp with variations on five set plays and is down to about a pair. And those aren't hard to figure out: Pick-and roll, find the hot hand.

The results are obvious, and combined with the growth of center Andris Biedrins, who turned 21 on Monday, and 22-year-old Monta Ellis, it's a foundation and style the Warriors say is worth building on -- playoffs or not.

"The worst scenario would have been to become a doormat team that didn't build anything and didn't make the playoffs, either," Riley said. "With seven games to go, we're sitting in a position that is desirable."
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:45 pm
I agree. Nelson had to overcome certain odds to keep this team going. He threw in the towel after getting blowed out during their longest road trip. But was it really a white flag? Or was it motivation? He went media, telling everyone he didn't believe he could get the Warriors to the promise land. But look at them now, he has them back into contention. The only thing now is to keep winning and hope faith is on their side.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:44 am
I don't think it was one of his top campaigns... a good one, yeah, but how can a campaign be THAT great if we don't even make the playoffs? (I know, we're close and all and that shouldn't matter, as his coaching would be the same... but the fact is that it matters).

I think he's done a good job... but not an outstanding job. And outstanding job would be... at least getting to the second round of the playoffs.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:48 am
Nelson had better seasons with the Mavs and even at the beginning of his first Warriors tenure
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 12:35 pm
I think the author is referring to the job Nelson's done... in regards to what he's had available to him. Nelson's had better seasons, sure, but I don't think he's ever been this short-handed before (maybe for the Bucks, but that's it).

In that aspect, I completely agree with the author. Nelson's done wonders with a lineup that, really, can't play defense, can't hit free throws, can't rebound, and can't stay healthy. 99 coaches out of 100 would be in dead last with a lineup like that. And Nelly might deliver us an 8th seed.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 1:17 pm
I'm just saying he had better seasons in the past. Not only stat wise. I think his Run TMC season was a way better coaching exercise than this one. His 1980 Bucks that won 60 games are another example of an impressive coaching job (although I may be talking out of my ass on this one, as I have seen... um, 1 game of that team. I'm just basing it on stats and looking at their roster).

I'm not saying he didn't do a good job, quite the opposite. Just that it wasn't his best.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:25 pm
TMC wrote:I'm just saying he had better seasons in the past. Not only stat wise. I think his Run TMC season was a way better coaching exercise than this one. His 1980 Bucks that won 60 games are another example of an impressive coaching job (although I may be talking out of my ass on this one, as I have seen... um, 1 game of that team. I'm just basing it on stats and looking at their roster).

I'm not saying he didn't do a good job, quite the opposite. Just that it wasn't his best.

Well, you also have to judge what he's got to work with.

The reason Run TMC was so good was because Nelson had 2 different players (Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin) who were at the superstar level. Right now, he has one... and that's Baron Davis. While coaching the loaded Mavericks or the Run TMC Warriors, Nelson had a helluva lot more to work with than he did this year.

This season, Don Nelson has made traditionally poor players (Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Josh Powell) look like decent role players. Even Mike Dunleavy briefly held career-bests in most categories under Nelson. All the while, players like Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, and Stephen Jackson have all exploded with the best basketball of their careers. Even Jason Richardson and Al Harrington are improving in a subtle manner (Richardson's passing/defense, Harrington's inside defense against big men).

I think Nelly, this season, has done more to improve a team (coaching-wise, not as a GM making trades) than he ever has.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:18 pm
This is probably the most talented Warrior team Nelson ever had! Back when he had Owens and Webber, that team was also very talented but more injury ravaged than this one has been. The improvement of the players has alot to do with the players themselves. Monta and Biedrins are young and were only going to improve, though Nelson's style is ideal for them. This was a good season for Nelson but not the best he's had
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:33 pm
During the 1991-'92 season, Don Nelson had three different players average more than 18 points a night: Chris Mullin (25.6 PPG), Tim Hardaway (23.4 PPG), and Sarunas Marciulionis (18.9 PPG).

The season prior to that, all three members of Run TMC averaged over 22 points per game: Mullin (25.7 PPG), Ritchmond (23.9 PPG) and Hardaway (22.9 PPG).

During the 1994-'95 campaign, Tim Hardaway (20.1 PPG), Latrell Sprewell (20.6 PPG), and Chris Mullin (19.0 PPG) all averaged over 18 points per game.

Hell, even during his 1984-'85 season with the Bucks, Terry Cummings (23.6 PPG) and Sidney Moncrief (21.7 PPG) both averaged over 21 points a night.

This season, Don Nelson has ONE player averaging more than 18 points per game: Baron Davis (20.3 PPG).

It's quite clear, just by looking at it, that this is one of the most short-handed lineups that Don Nelson has ever dealt with... and he's done wonders to improve them to (what many would consider) a playoff level. Even though Nelly only has one star (Davis), he's gotten 7 different players to average double-figure scoring for him this season (Davis, Harrington, Ellis, Jackson, Richardson, Dunleavy, and Pietrus... all averaging at least 11.2 points). Even Troy Murphy (9.6 PPG) and Matt Barnes (9.9 PPG) could be rounded up to double-digit scoring by most standards. Nelson's created a, seemingly, endless supply of role players capable of heating up on any given night for Golden State. He made lemonade out of this lineup that Mike Montgomery seemed infantile with. That's the mark of a truly great coach and he deserves all the credit in the world.

From where the Warriors started this year to where they've come to, one has to believe that this is one of Nelson's top 5 seasons as a coach. Easy. I can't recall a season where he's been this much of a teacher.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:33 am
32 wrote:During the 1991-'92 season, Don Nelson had three different players average more than 18 points a night: Chris Mullin (25.6 PPG), Tim Hardaway (23.4 PPG), and Sarunas Marciulionis (18.9 PPG).

The season prior to that, all three members of Run TMC averaged over 22 points per game: Mullin (25.7 PPG), Ritchmond (23.9 PPG) and Hardaway (22.9 PPG).

During the 1994-'95 campaign, Tim Hardaway (20.1 PPG), Latrell Sprewell (20.6 PPG), and Chris Mullin (19.0 PPG) all averaged over 18 points per game.

Hell, even during his 1984-'85 season with the Bucks, Terry Cummings (23.6 PPG) and Sidney Moncrief (21.7 PPG) both averaged over 21 points a night.

This season, Don Nelson has ONE player averaging more than 18 points per game: Baron Davis (20.3 PPG).

It's quite clear, just by looking at it, that this is one of the most short-handed lineups that Don Nelson has ever dealt with... and he's done wonders to improve them to (what many would consider) a playoff level. Even though Nelly only has one star (Davis), he's gotten 7 different players to average double-figure scoring for him this season (Davis, Harrington, Ellis, Jackson, Richardson, Dunleavy, and Pietrus... all averaging at least 11.2 points). Even Troy Murphy (9.6 PPG) and Matt Barnes (9.9 PPG) could be rounded up to double-digit scoring by most standards. Nelson's created a, seemingly, endless supply of role players capable of heating up on any given night for Golden State. He made lemonade out of this lineup that Mike Montgomery seemed infantile with. That's the mark of a truly great coach and he deserves all the credit in the world.

From where the Warriors started this year to where they've come to, one has to believe that this is one of Nelson's top 5 seasons as a coach. Easy. I can't recall a season where he's been this much of a teacher.



Don't want to be too harsh but that was pure ignorance!

In the 1980s and first 3 years of the 1990s, scoring was at an alltime high with teams averaging over 120 points. These days, teams don't get anywhere near that amount!

RunTMC Warriors team had those three very good players and NOONE else! This season's team is well balanced because of 5 or 6 talented players the likes perhaps only the Warriors team in 1993-94 had but ofcourse 2 of those players (TimBug and Sarunas) were out the whole season and Mullin was out the first 2 months! This season's team has 5 players over 15 points a game! More than I can remember for the Warriors. This team has great young talent and alot of them were lottery picks so that shows they are made up of amongst the best players available (or should have been, uhum........... Foyle :oops: ) in their respective drafts.

Nelson should get credit for getting very young players to play togehter and not explode on one another, as that can happen. The talent is here though and he has done more with less but has done well this season
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:45 am
32 wrote:It's quite clear, just by looking at it, that this is one of the most short-handed lineups that Don Nelson has ever dealt with


I don't think that's the case. I think that our roster is pretty loaded and a great fit for Nellie ball (other than a glaring need for better rebounding, we're pretty much a perfect fit for his style).

The biggest problem he has had, and the reason I consider this season as a good coaching job, it's that we've barely seen the team together this last few games, as lots of players have been injured at some point this season. Keeping us in the playoff hunt with so many injuries qualifies as a great coaching job... but I would consider a failure not making the playoffs if the team had been healthy the whole year (that wouldn't be the case, but you know what I mean).
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:55 pm
TMC wrote:
32 wrote:It's quite clear, just by looking at it, that this is one of the most short-handed lineups that Don Nelson has ever dealt with


I don't think that's the case. I think that our roster is pretty loaded and a great fit for Nellie ball (other than a glaring need for better rebounding, we're pretty much a perfect fit for his style).

The biggest problem he has had, and the reason I consider this season as a good coaching job, it's that we've barely seen the team together this last few games, as lots of players have been injured at some point this season. Keeping us in the playoff hunt with so many injuries qualifies as a great coaching job... but I would consider a failure not making the playoffs if the team had been healthy the whole year (that wouldn't be the case, but you know what I mean).

So, overall, you wouldn't say this is one of Nelson's top 5 coaching years...?

Which years would you put above this one? This question is opened to miggy, too. I'm honestly curious as to which years you two believe Nelson did more teaching, caused more improvement, and made better decisions? I don't think (other than, arguably, Diogu) that Nelson mismanaged anybody's playing time this year... and the vast improvements that several players have had speak for themselves.

What years did Nelson have better seasons?
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:59 pm
32 wrote:
TMC wrote:
32 wrote:It's quite clear, just by looking at it, that this is one of the most short-handed lineups that Don Nelson has ever dealt with


I don't think that's the case. I think that our roster is pretty loaded and a great fit for Nellie ball (other than a glaring need for better rebounding, we're pretty much a perfect fit for his style).

The biggest problem he has had, and the reason I consider this season as a good coaching job, it's that we've barely seen the team together this last few games, as lots of players have been injured at some point this season. Keeping us in the playoff hunt with so many injuries qualifies as a great coaching job... but I would consider a failure not making the playoffs if the team had been healthy the whole year (that wouldn't be the case, but you know what I mean).

So, overall, you wouldn't say this is one of Nelson's top 5 coaching years...?

Which years would you put above this one? This question is opened to miggy, too. I'm honestly curious as to which years you two believe Nelson did more teaching, caused more improvement, and made better decisions? I don't think (other than, arguably, Diogu) that Nelson mismanaged anybody's playing time this year... and the vast improvements that several players have had speak for themselves.

What years did Nelson have better seasons?



Well, I'm only going to go by the teams I actually saw him coach and won't research his Bucks teams, I'll let someone else do that.

I think he did an unbelievable job with the Warriors teams right off the bat when he first started in the late 1980s. That team only has Mullin and Richmond his first season as coach here and then added Tim Hardaway the following season but really had none else. In the 1993/94 season, Tim Hardaway and Sarunas were injured the whole season and Mullin for the first 2 months and they still won 50 games and made the playoffs for the last time, which happened to be Nelson's last season as coach here.

The improvements of players can be both attributed to nelson but also to the players themselves as guys like Monta and Biedrins were going get better regardless. Players like Barnes were assimilated well
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:16 am
32 wrote:So, overall, you wouldn't say this is one of Nelson's top 5 coaching years...?

Which years would you put above this one? This question is opened to miggy, too. I'm honestly curious as to which years you two believe Nelson did more teaching, caused more improvement, and made better decisions? I don't think (other than, arguably, Diogu) that Nelson mismanaged anybody's playing time this year... and the vast improvements that several players have had speak for themselves.

What years did Nelson have better seasons?


From the teams I've seen, I think the Run TMC was a better job (1990), next year, too, in which we won 55 games with the freaking Billy Owned... er, Owens, instead of Richmond. Also his 2002 and season in Dallas.

And, although I haven't seen those teams play much (never in some cases), some of his Milwaukee teams look like better jobs, too.

I think this should be a top 10 season... but not top 5.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:29 am
Okay, since no one else is going to actually look at his record, here's how I'd rank Nelson's Top 5 seasons:

1) 1980-'81 Milwaukee Bucks 60-22. Don Nelson's only reached 60 wins twice in his career. I think his first one, in '81, is the most impressive. His highest scorer (Marques Johnson) only put up 20.3 PPG (ala Baron this season), but they still managed to snag the 3rd best record in the league (behind the stacked Celtics and the stacked Sixers). Nelly had 4 different players averaging higher than 6 rebounds per game (Johnson, Bob Lanier, Mickey Johnson, and Harvey Catchings). Easily, if the Boston Celtics and Philly 76ers weren't so damn stacked (Bird, Parish, Archibald, McHale, Erving, Dawkins, Mo Cheeks), Nelson would have had the best record in the NBA. As it stands, he managed to be right on their heels (both teams won 62) with a less than memorable roster.

2) 2002-'03 Dallas Mavericks 60-22. Nelson's second trip to 60 wins... only this time he had Dirk Nowitski, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley pulling the load. Nelson squeezed talent out of everybody on the roster (Shawn Bradley managed over 2 blocks in barely 20 minutes, Nash had his best year as a Maverick, Van Exel became a role player after traditionally starting, Finley quietly averaged 19 points, 6 boards, and 3 assists, ect). The only difference between this year and '81 is talent: Nelly had a helluva lot more to work with. But you can't take anything away from him; it was Dallas' best year under Nelson (who turned that franchise from a door mat into one of the league's powerhouse teams for the decade).

3) 1991-'92 Golden State Warriors 55-27. I think this was Nelson's best year in Golden State purely for one reason: he traded a star (Mitch Richmond) and when he realized that he got garbage back in return, he made a star out of one of his current players. Sarunas Marciulionis averaged a career-high 18.9 PPG in the wake of the Richmond trade (he averaged 10.9 the season prior). Mullin and Hardaway did their thing (as usual), but it was really remarkable for Nelly for make lemonade out of such a horrific trade and still grab 55 wins.

4) 1993-'94 Golden State Warriors 50-32. This is a classic example of how the record can be misleading. One might assume that, due to the Warriors stacked roster (Webber, Spree, Mully, TimBug), 50 wins was underachievement. What many people don't remember is that the Warriors were plagued by injury this year. Hardaway didn't play a single game that year and the usually healthy Mullin (the Warriors leading scorer for the past 5 seasons) missed 20 games. Once again, Nelly gave the reigns to Sprewell (an emerging star, under Nelson) and let he and Webber run the show while his old horses were in the barn. In light of all those setbacks, its not tough to see what a great job Nelson did pulling together the team.

5) 2006-'07 Golden State Warriors (Currently) 38-40. The Warriors have missed the playoffs for 12 years running... and Nelson's got us in a position where we might actually be in the post season again. He benched Adonal Foyle (whose been starting since Dampier left in 2004) and brought in young buck, Andris Biedrins, whose exploded with a season worthy of MIP honors. Likewise, Nelly's given the ball to sophomore Monta Ellis, whose responded with an 18, 3, and 4 season. Stephen Jackson comes to the Warriors midseason and bumps up his scoring average up 3 points, his assists by 2, and his rebounding/steals by 0.5 a night (while shooting a better percentage across the board). Franchise Baron Davis has had the best season of his career, to go along with the breakout years from Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes (not to mention Ellis and Biedrins). Even youngsters Josh Powell and Kelenna Azuibuke look like studs when they come into the game. And Nelson's done it all with the following: Baron Davis missing 19 games, leading scorer Jason Richardson missing 31 games, Mickael Pietrus missing 10 games, Stephen Jackson missing 4 games, ect. The only man to suit up for Golden State every single night was Andris Biedrins. When your 2 best players (Richardson and Davis) combine for 50 missed games in a season and you still make the playoffs (assuming they do), you've done your job as a coach.

Please, if anybody would rank a season in Nelson's career higher than this one... let me know which season. I'd gladly like to know why you're not giving the guy proper credit.
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