Da Coach

To go along with Oregonlive’s You Be the GM post on Nate McMillan today, we wanted to take a minute and offer a little more insight into Nate’s past, present and future.  First, you’ve got to give it up to a guy who spent his entire 12-year career playing for the same team, during which he became their all-time leader in assists and steals.  Only Downtown Freddy Brown played longer for the Sonics and the Sonics retired McMillan’s #10 jersey in 1999.  His tenacious defense made him a respected enemy for our beloved Trailblazers during the golden years of Clyde, Terry, Buck, Jerome and friends. 

He was an assistant for two years to Paul Westphal and went on to lead the Sonics for five years, posting a respectable .537 winning percentage, culminating in a 52-30 season in 2004-2005 and a division championship.  In Portland, he’s had a little tougher luck, with 21-61, 32-50 and 41-41 seasons adding up to a .382 winning percentage over the last three years.  While Nate has been praised for his remarkable ability to focus his team during a timeout, he has also engendered a consistent run of criticism for his backing of an inconsistent Jarrett Jack and the long benching of the once-promising, now-disillusioned Sergio Rodriguez. 

None of this is to say that we don’t love Nate.  Because we do.  More than you can know.  Just like in highschool, Mo Cheeks was the teacher who coached golf, taught a few classes, joked around and let you wear a hat while chewing gum in class.  Nate ain’t that guy.  In Nate’s classroom, no one talks while he’s talking and if you tried turning in an assignment late, he’d tell his policy is No Late Work Accepted, No Exceptions.  In a way, Nate’s timing was perfect for the 3rd youngest team in NBA history and, if we’d been able to keep the pace of December and January for another month or two, we would’ve made the playoffs and Nate would’ve been getting serious COY consideration (he finished 9th in the voting, receiving 3 3rd place votes).

Obviously the Blazers’ front office is very happy with Nate and the players love him.  But here’s a question to put your Nate-love to the test: what if Brandon Roy or LMA were being treated like Sergio?  What if these two were unhappy with Sarge’s discipline and started talking publicly about it?  How would you feel then?  With names like Avery Johnson and Mike D’Antoni on the market, you have to wonder what it would be like with them at the helm.  How would these young guys respond to the General?  Is D’Antoni really as bad at developing young players as they say?  These are the fun questions we can ask and debate in the off-season, so give us your thoughts below.

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6 Responses to “Da Coach”

  1. Voice of reason Says:

    If Roy or LA was complaining about Nate, he’d be out of here faster than you can say Spanish Chocolate. Roy is the real captain and leader of this team. Nate is the hammer, but you can see how players don’t necessarily thrive in that environment (look at travis and martell). Nate can only get so much credit for the development of these young players and very little for Roy or LA.

    I think D’Antoni’s going to chicago and would be too expensive anyway. I do like Avery Johnson and he’d be an exciting coach to say the least. What about Terry Porter? I see he’s on Detroit now, but he belongs in the rip city.

  2. Portland overachieved this year but the bar is raised next season. Oden will improve rebounding. Nate will have to get team to drive to hoop more, gamble intelligently on steals with Oden there to backstop and / or foul less.

    Less than 45 wins will be a disappointment to many. But much more than 45 wins will be tougher than most think.

    Avery Johnson destroyed his public reputation the way he talked after getting fired- justly. No contender will take him this year and the pickings won’t be as good as he thinks next season either. He was handed one of the best situation any coach ever gets and blew it pretty quickly. A conceited control freak. Spurs attitude without the coaching talent to back it up.

  3. Coach Nate is a voice that is respected in the locker room, he is also an NBA Coach, in a league where the coach means far less than one does in the college ranks. The NBA is run by the players and the combination a team runs on the court on a given night. Email me if you want some examples (cudazguy@yahoo.com)

    Portland has a great opportunity next season to not only make progress but to completely elevate there level of play across the board. With Martell already working hard and Travis doing the same this team is hungry for sure. Both Golden State and Dallas are aging fast and there will be spots available come playoff time. We need our core to remain tight and with the additions of a healthy Oden and a burst of energy out of Rudy this team has a legit shot at turning some heads in the upcoming season. Not to mention any offseason moves! How can anyone not be excited about the future of this team?

  4. Blazerdude Says:

    Nate is definitely respected by his players, but you can’t ignore that he plays favorites (I’m sure all coaches do). I’ve always thought that Jerry Sloan’s system of not playing rookies very much in crucial situations undermined their confidence. But he’s obviously a great coach and gets a ton of out his players.

    Sure the combination of players on the floor determine the game, but aren’t you ignoring the fact that the coaches decide what players are out there? It seems odd to point to that as a reason that coaching doesn’t matter as much, I would think it would make it matter even more…. I’d agree that coaching matters less the more advanced your players are (so it’s more important for highschool than college, college than pros), but you’ve got to admit that there are some coaches who just know how to win, regardless of what they’ve got. And having the players like you is great, but it’s about setting the tone and keeping the ship pointed in the right direction. That’s what I think Nate is really, really going to be great at in Portland. He has a couple of young, character guys (pretty much the whole team), so it should allow his dispciplinary style to really reinforce what these guys already know – that they’ve got a ton of talent and that they should fight to win every second of every game.

  5. Well, here’s the rub. Both Roy and LMA have flourished under Nate’s tutelage, while a no-D, can’t shoot PG struggled mightily — I don’t see how there can be any complaints about Nate.

    Sergio may be a dazzling PASSER, but he is an incomplete player and he continued the fall-off he bagan at the end of his rookie year; team’s built a book on him and realized all you have to do is sag back into the passing lanes and dare him to shoot.

    So when I look at this I don’t see it as Nate “treating” Sergio a certain way; he kept his butt on the bench because he hurt this team’s chances to win, and he “treated” Brandon and LMA differently by playing them because they both demonstrated an ability to elevate their play to a higher level.

    This isn’t youth basketball where everybody deserves a chance to get out there and play and have fun, this is professional level ball where there are 240 minutes to be divided amongst any combination of five players and Nate put the guys out there that he thought gave the team a chance to win.

  6. […] Blazers or Mr. Paycheck? It was not all that long ago that we posted about our Coach and what we in Rip City thought about him.  The consensus was that Nate is doing a heck of a job, […]

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