The Portland Trail Blazers have a vacancy for a head coach. Among the candidates that are reportedly in the mix to fill in the spot is current Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni, who has had several coaching gigs in the past decade.
D’Antoni has won two Coach of the Year awards, specifically back in 2005 and 2017, and has coached multiple superstars like Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Chris Paul, and Steve Nash amongst others.
He has the experience every superstar wants in a coach: style of play, playoff moments and ability to get the best out of his star players. This is what Damian Lillard and the Blazers need right now. The Terry Stotts era has clearly not worked out well for Lillard and company. They’ve only made the Western Conference Finals once and had multiple first round exits for the past couple of years.
The best replacement to this is to find a more experienced coach, both when it comes to superstars and the playoffs. D’Antoni has the potential to maximize Lillard and at the same time utilize a system that would help Lillard’s teammates.
Here are four other reasons why D’Antoni is the best coaching candidate for the Blazers:
4. The Blazers need a more defensive-minded coach
The Blazers lost this year because of a variety of reasons, but their defense has got to be on top of that list. They ranked 29th in the NBA on defense and was the main reason why they didn’t advance past the Denver Nuggets, who were down two starters. Normally, the Blazers should’ve capitalized on the unavailability of their opponent but they didn’t. D’Antoni is more prolific on offense, but he’s also certainly an upgrade on defense compared to Stotts.
3. Mike D’Antoni makes his adjustments
When it comes to the playoffs, adjustments are necessary. That’s what separates a great coach with a good one. Lack of adjustments is also what gets many other coaches fired. Stotts’ best abilities are definitely not coaching adjustments because it seems like he’s always outcoached in every playoff series.
Adding D’Antoni could help the Blazers, especially come playoff time. His experience, poise and ability to break down offense and defense can help the adjustments the Blazers make in the playoffs. He has done it in the past and most probably will as well if he lands the Blazers’ head coaching job.
2. D’Antoni’s Offense
He did it for the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and even USA Basketball. All D’Antoni needs is the right pieces around him and he’ll work his offensive mind. He was able to maximize Nash and Harden’s potential, who both won MVPs when D’Antoni was their head coach. You know who’s a pretty lethal offensive player? Damian Lillard.
D’Antoni can get the best out of Lillard and his teammates because he’ll have the system to utilize each one of them.
Mike D'Antoni Knicks | 21 Keep "Cut" Flip Action pic.twitter.com/SAsPPbpUnX
— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) June 11, 2021
1. Mike D’Antoni will incorporate a culture change
As mentioned above, the Blazers have only made the Western Conference Finals once in the last four years and have lost in the first round more often. When a team has constantly failed to succeed, then there should be some sort of culture change. Stotts just wasn’t that effective for Lillard anymore and for them to make noise in such a competitive conference, they can’t stick to what they’ve been doing.
Adding Mike D’Antoni will at least mark a culture shift in Portland. The Blazers badly need to incorporate a winning culture and operate under a system that is formed by a brilliant offensive coach.