The Philadelphia 76ers have lost 10 of their last 13 games and appear to be in complete free fall.
Philadelphia is out of playoff contention with a 24-39 record and are nine games back of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the strugglecomes the belief that head coach Doug Collins will step down after this season. Let’s take a look at the coaches who would fit the roster best.
1. Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy is a demanding coach like Collins. However, Van Gundy has shown through his coaching ability to get the most out of the talent he has at his disposal and put his players in a to be the most successful. Over the course of his career, Van Gundy has won 64.1 percent of his games as coach of both the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.
His offensive game plan with Heat centered around the athleticism of Dwayne Wade and the inside post presence of Shaquille O’Neal and led to one of the best offenses in the league finishing in the top 10 in points per game each of his two full seasons. During his reign as head of the Magic, Van Gundy had a different roster to work with. The Magic had the post presence in center Dwight Howard, but lacked the athleticism make plays off the dribble. Thus entered the tried but true pick-and-roll that allowed Howard to use his astounding athleticism. The strength of the Magic roster was 3-point shooting; by dumping the ball in the post, Howard would force the defense to converge on him, leaving lethal shooters such as Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson open for the long-range shot. His ability to work with a variety of rosters makes him a good fit for the 76ers, regardless of whether center Andrew Bynum returns next season.
2. Brian Shaw
Brian Shaw was an assistant coach under Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and is current an assistant coach under Frank Vogel with the Indiana Pacers. The one possible limitation on Shaw is the belief that his coaching ability is based completely on the triangle offense. However, after spending the past two seasons with the Pacers away from the triangle offense, Shaw doesn’t appear to be a one-note coach. Shaw has also been credited with the continued development of 22-year-old small forward Paul George, who is having a breakout season. Having coached Bynum as a member of the Lakers coaching staff, Shaw could be a factor in getting Bynum to re-sign in Philadelphia after this season.
3. Nate McMillan
Nate McMillan is a great coach that simply could not overcome the injury bug as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. During his tenure as the Trail Blazers coach he saw center Greg Oden and shooting guard Brandon Roy‘s knee ligaments deteriorate, eventually bringing his time with the Blazers to an end. While coaching the Trail Blazers, his teams were among the slowest offenses in the NBA, averaging 97.2 points per game,which was No. 16 in the NBA. However, despite having a slower-paced offense, McMillan coaches a technical offensive attack that could provide structure to a struggling offensive team in the 76ers. Point guard Jrue Holiday is a dynamic playmaker, but the rest of the players have struggled with finding an offensive identity, especially in the half-court, which is where McMillan’s offense excels.
These next two possibilities are less likely, but would be perfect candidates for the personnel.
4. John Calipari
The current University of Kentucky head coach already has previous NBA experience with the New Jersey Nets. In his NBA career, he only had a 72-112 record, but would make a good hire for the 76ers. The 76ers roster currently has a strong point guard in Holiday and several athletic wing players, but poor 3-point shooters. Kentucky has a similar roster that focuses on athleticism, active defense and up-tempo offense. The up-tempo style of play could reignite a struggling offense that is currently No. 29 in the NBA with 92.2 points per game.
5. Larry Brown
There is little doubt that Larry Brown can still coach at the NBA level. However, the last time Brown was a head coach in the NBA with Charlotte Bobcats, he had several health concerns. Brown is now coaching at Southern Methodist University and would bring a detail-oriented approach to defensive side of the ball. The Bobcats team that Brown coached was not an offensive juggernaut and Brown was still able to make the playoffs in a crowded Southeast Division. Brown would be a great hire for the 76ers if general manager Tony DiLeo chooses to go that route.