Clifford Like Dunlap, But Better
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Full disclosure; I didn’t think Mike Dunlap deserved to be fired. But, I also didn’t think he should have been hired in the first place. My reason was simple: lack of experience in the NBA game.
Multiple reports indicate the Cats are hiring Lakers Assistant Steve Clifford. His strengths are said to be Defense and Player Development. These are the exact same things that were said to be Dunlap’s areas of expertise. The difference is Clifford is a longtime NBA Assistant. He understands the game and the pro players.
Heck, he understands Dwight Howard so well that he was hired as an assistant by Mike Brown in LA because he coached him with some success as an assistant in Orlando.
He comes from the Jeff and Stan Van Gundy coaching trees. That means he knows defense. And if you look at two small market teams who have been built into contenders (Indiana and Memphis), defense might not be a bad way to do it. They are the top two defensive efficiency teams in the NBA and are in the Final Four of the league. When you can’t get big time players as free agents, team defense is a good way to become a contender.
He seems like he is the type of guy we should have hired last year. But, now we have to get him some players. I am pretty sure Phil Jackson couldn’t win with this lineup.
He is tight with Dwight Howard. Hmmmm.