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Detroit Pistons Coach Dreams: Mike Woodson

Essentials

Age: 53

Current Job: None (sat out the year after the Atlanta Hawks didn’t renew his contract)

Previous experience:

  • Head Coach, Atlanta Hawks (2004-2010)
  • Assistant Coach, Detroit Pistons (2003-04)
  • Assistant Coach, Philadelphia 76ers (2001-03)
  • Assistant Coach, Cleveland Cavaliers (1999-2001)
  • Assistant Coach, Milwaukee Bucks (1996-99)

Pros

Woodson has plenty of head-coaching experience, and the Hawks improved each year under his watch:


He helped mold young players like Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Josh Childress and Al Horford. The growth of those players wasn’t always steady, but over the long term, they definitely got better.

Offensively, he took a lot of criticism for his isolation-heavy offense, but the Hawks finished second in the NBA in offensive rating his final year. Under Larry Drew’s motion offense, they fell to 20th this year. Ideally, the Pistons will rely less on isolation than they did under John Kuester. Whether Woodson can adjust remains to be seen, because what he did in Atlanta worked fairly well with Joe Johnson, giving him little need to change there.

Woodson has a strong pedigree after spending time working under Larry Brown, and by all accounts, he’d be good steward for the team. I think the players would respect him more than the average candidate on the Pistons’ list. He’s been around as both a player and a coach, and his reputation says he’s a pretty straight shooter.

Cons

Woodson had a few run-ins with his players in Atlanta, but that’s bound to happen with any coach who keeps the same job for so long. The question is how he dealt with those problems and how he’d minimize them in Detroit. In an interview with him, I’d want to hear a clear plan.

Although Woodson has a reputation as a defensive-minded coach, his Atlanta teams never finished better than middle of the pack in defensive rating. They had some pretty talented defensive players, too.

His rotations could be suspect, and at times, he’s been a little slow to adjust.

Are the Pistons overvaluing Woodson’s time in Detroit? If he had been an assistant for any other team during that season, would they still have interest? At this point, as Kuester demonstrated, winning a championship as assistant here doesn’t come close to guaranteeing success as a head coach later.

The Hawks certainly improved under Woodson, but it’s difficult to tell how much credit he deserves. He inherited a young team, and young players typically improve regardless of their coach. Did he speed up or slow down the process? It’d be difficult to make a case that he slowed it down, but it’s not certain he sped it up, either.

Verdict

Mike Woodson appears to be a fairly safe hire, and that might be why everyone says he’s the frontrunner for this job. Regardless of who deserves blame, Detroit’s last two hires – John Kuester and Michael Curry – saw their tenures end in disarray. Woodson, without requiring a total roster overhaul, could help right the ship.

But some of the questions about him, especially the Hawks’ underwhelming defense, should give Joe Dumars pause about hiring him. The Pistons could certainly do worse, but for someone whose biggest positive is being a safe hire, I’m not convinced he’s all that safe.

Previously

4 Comments

  • Jun 8, 201111:28 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    i may be wrong about this, but i think Woodson would be a bad hire. I never thought that Atlanta team played with any toughness or real basketball intelligence when Woodson was coach. Orlando just destroyed them in the playoffs two years in a row while Woodson was coach and if you saw any of those games, you know that Atlanta did not bring it – they basically quit. And Woodson never made adjustments defensively. And the offense was all one on one isolations.

    • Jun 8, 201111:56 pm
      by Senni

      Reply

      I agree with you on this one.. I may be one of the few though.. I never thought Woodson would be that great of a hire

  • Jun 9, 20117:40 pm
    by liljune

    Reply

     
     
     
     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     
     

     

     

     

     

     

    WOODSON: THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY:

    THE GOOD:

    After four seasons of fielding one of the youngest teams in the NBA, you can understand the feeling of satisfaction as Hawks head coach Mike Woodson looks back on the 2007-08 campaign. To lead a franchise that was devoid of postseason competition for a then-league high eight years to the brink of one of the biggest upsets in postseason history, he has challenged his players to build on their accomplishment and make it back-to-back playoff appearances in 2008-09.

    Woodson, who entered his Hawks coaching career as a rookie head coach, inherited a rebuilding situation that brought a lot of pain, heartache and long nights on the bench. While the wins were few and far between, he never stopped preaching and teaching his troops towards the ultimate goal – to become one of the 16 teams to make it to the playoffs and compete for the NBA championship.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    http://www.nba.com/coachfile/mike_woodson/
    May 9th, 2010

    Woodson’s situation is similar to that of Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who most recently said he was 90 percent sure he’d be back coaching the Lakers next season after his current contract expires. In Jackson’s case, ownership’s desire to have him take a pay cut will be a contributing factor as to whether he returns.
    Woodson was in a similar situation two years ago, but he solidified his job status by extending the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics to a seventh game in their first-round series.
    “Well, it’s nothing new,” he said. “I’ve been there before, a few years ago. It’s what it is, I’m under contract until the end of June and I’ve still got work to do.”
    Under Woodson’s leadership, the Hawks have improved every season, going from 13 wins in 2004-05 to 26 the following season, then 30, 37, 47 and 53 victories. Last season was the first time since 1999 that Atlanta made it to the second round,

     

     
    http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2010/05/mike-woodson-may-be-coaching-for-his-job/
    What Mike Woodson has done during his tenure in Atlanta has been great. He took one of the worst teams in the NBA and developed the same personnel (mostly) into a contender.
     

     
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/323332-hawks-coach-mike-woodson-miced-up
    THE BAD:

    But there is one other known fact. Mike Woodson never tried to alter the game. He provided no advantage when he was the underdog. He never out coached his opponent. I can only think of a handful of times when Woody actually made a move that costs the Hawks a game. (One of the few examples was the

     
    Jason Collins sub so Al Horford

    could play some against Gortat). No, Woody rarely made coaching blunders because he made no coaching moves. It was the same thing every game. The same plays and the same sub patterns, the same post game quotes and the same defense, the same first two offensive plays to start the game and the same non reaction to bad fourth quarter shots down the stretch.

     

     

     
    http://www.peachtreehoops.com/2010/5/14/1471139/the-hawks-are-no-longer-playing

  • Jun 9, 20117:43 pm
    by liljune

    Reply

    Mike Woodson: The Good The Bad The Ugly

    THE UGLY:The wins came, but what never came was an identity. Players got better, but they were never pushed into roles where new skills could have some accountability. And because of all this, the Hawks were a team that was good but not one that was feared. In the NBA, teams fear the unknown wrinkle and the known identity that cannot be stopped. Mike Woodson was never able to produce either. He was a man of consistency, a consistency that should be commended and thanked. But six years in it was clear that consistency was based on a fear to fail and not a drive to win, and in the end, that will only produce mediocrity. And I for one celebrate the Hawks for choosing the unknown ahead over the consistency of being average.

     

     

     

     
    http://www.peachtreehoops.com/2010/5/14/1471139/the-hawks-are-no-longer-playing

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