Vinny Del Negro: A GOOD Coach?
This season, the Clippers overhauled their bench and brought in an assortment of talent to fill voids at every position on the floor. Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes lead a second unit that is tops in the NBA in points per game. They have been the driving force behind the Clippers current 15-game win streak entering their game tonight in Utah.
However, with the amount of talent on the Clippers roster, managing minutes and personalities becomes a huge issue. Talented individuals do not take kindly to limited minutes or shrunken roles because their ego usually trumps team unity. What Vinny has been able to accomplish thus far with his team is nothing short of remarkable.
The talent is there, in bulk. But without proper direction, this team would be floundering beneath their enormous ego. Coaching is often overlooked as a key component at the professional level and most believe Del Negro is at the lower end of the coaching spectrum, however, this season (to this point) has proved otherwise.
Chris Paul has been the unquestioned leader since arriving, however, he defers to now injured Chauncey Billups, the former Finals MVP for direction because he checks his ego at the door. Blake Griffin has significantly transformed his game, becoming a much better outside jump-shooter and improving his free throw percentage was a point of emphasis this offseason as well.
The Clippers have six players who average 9 points of more, but that is not where they made their biggest leap. They are in the top three in the NBA in points allowed at 91. They are tops in the league in point differential at 10.8 and they are top five in assists. But defense is their most impressive leap from year to year.
Limiting opponents possessions and leading the league in steals gives this team the backbone it requires to make a deep postseason run. When teams play great defense, it’s a credit to the coaching staff, led by Vinny. “Fire VDN” is no longer a chant heard at Staples Center or on twitter.
It’s funny what success can do to you. Keep it up Vinny.