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Lawrence Frank for Coach of the Year

Patrick has repeatedly complained about the Pistons not promoting their players – especially irritating considering how hard they sell their halftime acts. So, we’re doing something about it.

Though the Pistons are finishing a lousy season, they still have players who deserve at least consideration for post-season awards, and we’re going to tell you why. But because we don’t receive a paycheck from the Pistons, we’re not going to stop there like they would if they conducted this campaign themselves. We’re also going to evaluate whether the player actually deserves the honor.

Here’s our look at Lawrence Frank for Coach of the Year.

Making the case

Patrick Hayes:  Stop laughing. I’m serious, you – stop laughing.

No, we’re not writing this just because Dan Feldman’s ‘did they tank?’ post seemed to ruffle Frank’s feathers. Yes, I get that it’s somewhat ridiculous to suggest a coach of a 24-41 team deserves coach of the year consideration.

But think about what Frank was walking into here, arguably the worst locker room for a coach in the league, one where veteran players openly derided their previous coach behind closed doors and in the media and several players were involved in an alleged boycott of a shootaround. And all of that for a coach in John Kuester whom they supposedly respected. I’d hate to see what would’ve happened to a guy they didn’t respect.

Anyway, although Richard Hamilton was jettisoned post-lockout, Frank inherited some players who had issues with the coach last season. Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey both had disagreements with Kuester, and Austin Daye was one of the players benched after the Philly boycott.

After a disastrous start to the season, Frank has the Pistons just a game under .500 in their last 41 games, he’s established an ironclad rotation (something that was one of the players’ biggest complaints about Kuester) and, with a few exceptions, the team has played hard this season. As minimal as those things sound, they are all pretty big improvements over last year.

Dan Feldman: The award is called Coach of the Year, not the The NBA’s Best Coach. The question should be, who did the best coaching job this season? Spending previous years installing and perfecting a system shouldn’t count directly for this award. I’m not sure if that puts Frank ahead of the presumed front-runners, Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau, but it gets him closer to the mix. Popovich, to a degree, is relying on his coaching and player development from years past, and Thibodeau did his heavy lifting last year.

After a 4-20 start, Frank has overseen a steadily improving defense and even had the Pistons on the verge of realistically contending for a playoff spot this season. Being on the verge of contending for the playoffs isn’t exactly a noteworthy accomplishment for most teams, but after their horrid start, it was pretty incredible for these Pistons.

Honest assessment

Patrick Hayes: OK, he has no chance.

There are things I’ve been unimpressed with – not finding out sooner what he has in Vernon Macklin, playing Prince too many minutes, not experimenting with Jonas Jerebko enough at small forward among them — but overall, Frank has done a reasonable job in his first year.

If the Pistons’ 4-20 start would’ve been even slightly less pathetic, and the Pistons would’ve challenged for a playoff spot this season. That’s not worth a big award or celebration, but it’s worthy of something I guess. A fist bump? A pat on the back? I don’t know. Give him something though.

Dan Feldman: No way.

Despite the Pistons’ aforementioned defensive improvement, they still rank 21st in the league in defensive rating. Frank shouldn’t get credit for Detroit being unprepared to start the season. Given the lockout, that wasn’t necessarily his fault, but he definitely doesn’t deserve credit. And the Pistons’ offense, surprisingly average last year, has completely fallen apart.

I tend to look at body of work over the whole season, and with a similar roster to last year, the Pistons will finish with a worse record if they lose their final game.

Frank hasn’t quite lived up to the standard I had for him when the Pistons hired him, but he’s done a satisfactory job this year. Satisfactory might be a big improvement from the John Kuester and Michael Curry eras, but that doesn’t mean Frank has stacked up with the NBA’s top coaches this year.


  • Apr 24, 20125:19 pm
    by Padden


    I wasn’t sure about Frank at the start but he’s won me over, for now.  I don’t think Jerebko’s promise of making the playoffs is that insane.

  • Apr 24, 20125:22 pm
    by Max


    Coach of the year stuff aside, Frank had at least a decent year.   Also, I wouldn’t say Frank didn’t have the team prepared to play at the beginning of the year so much as he and the team endured a brutal schedule–perhaps the worst in the league.   Further, Stuckey missing camp and then hurting his groin along with the fact that Prince didn’t look right from a health standpoint the first few weeks compounded the steep challenges of continuity and no summer league/short training camp/lock out schedule that Frank was facing.
    Record is one thing but there were plenty of games this year when the Pistons played like a better team than at any point last season.

    • Apr 24, 20126:35 pm
      by zachb


      spot on man. there are plenty of reasons the pistons had a dissapointing start. This team is looking like a playoff contender sooner rather than later tho. I just want to shut the pacers fans up who were saying things like ‘i remember when i used to hate the pistons, now i just dont care because they suck” imo they have a solid team, but they wont ever compete for the championship

    • Apr 24, 20128:40 pm
      by Eric


      Wth is up with all those training camps/ summer workout excuses for veteran players? Knight would be the only exception, since he’s a rookie.

      Stuckey is inconsistent- Just look at his past 5 or so games.

      Prince is declining- Look at his age and his season stats.

  • Apr 24, 20127:36 pm
    by MNM


    You guys must be really bored, huh…

  • Apr 24, 20128:37 pm
    by Eric


    Ridiculous topic to discuss

  • Apr 24, 20128:51 pm
    by jerrific


    Stuckey just came back from an injury, which may be affecting him. Overall he’s been far more consistent this season then he has in the past. And the veterans have no control over the fact that there was a coaching change, meaning a new system, with virtually no training camp to prepare for the regular season. Regardless of your experience that will affect players on the court. I think our improvement as the season progressed is pretty solid evidence of that. 

    You’re right about Prince tho, that was a bad signing. Prince was great when he knew he was our fourth option; now he thinks he’s the best player on the team, and he’s probably the third at most.

    • Apr 25, 20121:02 am
      by MrHappyMushroom


      He really hasn’t been all that consistent.  He had a terrific two month stretch after a m’eh beginning and he’s finished the season horribly.
      We can blame injuries. But that’s what Stuckey is–a guy who gets hurt a lot.  Based on his first five years (which should be his healthiest), it seems like he’ll be ready to go at all about 70-75 times a year, and likely limited in a number of those games.  It’s just who he is.  He could be a valuable cog on a good team that doesn’t rely upon him. But if he’s your best player (or even second best), you’re going to win 25-35 games a year for perpetuity.

  • Apr 25, 20121:58 am
    by BIGMARV


    Seriously I cant stop laughing.. and its not about frank its about this article seriosuly? I can tell the season is coming to another failure cause here comes the redicolusly outrageous stories.

  • Apr 25, 201212:43 pm
    by John


    By my count Pistons are 14-6 against teams with a worse record than they have (the bottom 8). They are therefore, 10-35 versus the rest of the league. That is a shi**y record and absolutely, unequivocally, no reason for optimism. This team continues to be a mess, the Coach is not helping matters and I don’t see any change in the near future. Some of those 10 wins include wins vs Magic and Boston without their top players playing…all of a sudden you are down to 6 or 7 wins on equal footing with teams that have a better record than them…pathetic. People need to realize this team is a true mess with no fix in sight.

    • Apr 25, 20123:12 pm
      by gordbrown


      Don’t feed the troll, Don’t feed the troll, Don’t feed the troll. Ah shit, can’t help myself. Think about what you’ve written. If the Pistons have a statistically significant winning record against the teams that have losing records, then they are better than those teams (otherwise their record would be .500 against those teams). If the Pistons are docked for playing against teams without their best players, what about the other teams that got to play against teams without their best players (there was a lot of that going on this year)? What about games where the Pistons didn’t have their best players? The Pistons largest problem this year was tight games on the road, which they proved unable to finish. Of course, that was their problem last year. The fix for this is not to draft the best overall rookie coming into next season. The fix for this is to a) live through this and learn and b) develop a reputation as winners so you don’t get f***ed over by the referees as much as we’ve seen. Also improving as the season goes on is a sign of hope. A .500 record over half the season is a sign the team has come to a place where it can compete for a playoff spot. /endrant.

    • Apr 25, 20123:51 pm
      by frankie d


      some of the delusional fans here don’t like you to point out cold hard realities about the team.
      they’d rather continue on as though the last 5 years haven’t happened.
      that frank is actually the next chuck daly, even though his record screams something else.  
      and that with another mid-lottery pick, the team will be right back in the mix for contending.
      frank has been exactly what he’s been his entire career: a mediocre coach.
      he’s done some good things – let knight play, put maxiell and monroe in positions where they could contribute – but he’s also done some incomprehensible things.  and the result is right in front of our noses.
      for instance, the team has been horrible offensively.  one of the worst in the league.
      but he effectively buried a 4th of his roster this year, gluing guys to the bench, guys who could have helped offensively.
      bynum, CV, daye and macklin.  all guys who have offensive skills and who obviously have defensive deficiencies.  other team’s announcers have joked about frank’s hugely populated doghouse and how it has been almost impossible for certain guys to escape it.
      it is the job of a good coach to try to utilize the talent at his disposal.  burying guys, not really giving them a chance on the court, not figuring out some way to use guys with certain talents, while hiding their flaws, that it what bad coaches do.  good  coaches figure out someway, somehow to get even flawed players on the court so that you can exploit the good things they bring.
      it is easy and lazy to throw predictable vets out on the court because you know what they will do, even if they don’t solve your real problems.  incredibly lazy and cowardly, imho, on the part of the coach.
      for instance, why didn’t they ever try to use a zone defense that could have allowed guys like CV and daye and even macklin to get on the court so that you could exploit their offense while hiding their defensive liabilities?
      to paraphrase dennis green, frank is who we thought he was: a freakin mediocre nba coach.  
      the only folks who are surprised are the ones who havent been paying attention.

  • Apr 25, 20126:26 pm
    by gordbrown


    Everybody knows what happened over the past five years. Gravity happened. Players get old, lose their hops, wind up amnestied and then injured for the rest of the year. Having said that, the Pistons have been frustrating insofar as they have been a better team than their record says for at least the past two years (that is under Kuester). Better enough to make the playoffs? Well let’s not get crazy. But better enough to show some progress? I think so. All that could be expected of Frank this year was to get the team pointed in a better direction. It is undeniable that he did that (a team that can jump from playing a significant part of the season at less than .200 to one that plays a respectable .500 for a greater part of the season is definitely improving). Having said that Bynum and Daye have been truly awful when they play and hopefully they will either learn from that and improve or they will move on and be replaced by something better. This team has undeniable needs but at least it has a core and rid itself of some of its bad habits. That’s a start.

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