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Lawrence Frank’s teams blown out more often than record suggests would happen

The Pistons lost to the Pacers by 32 and then 18, and nobody took more heat for the defeats than Lawrence Frank.

When the Pistons lose and we give Frank anything other than an F in our postgame grades, commenters get upset. When the Pistons lose big and we give Frank anything other than an F in our postgame grades, commenters go ballistic.

The same phenomenon doesn’t exist, at least not nearly on the same scale, when we give starting players good grades in losses.

Do people really believe Frank’s performance more closely correlates with the Pistons’ success than Greg Monroe’s, Brandon Knight’s, Kyle Singler’s Rodney Stuckey’s or any other key player’s? I just don’t think coaches are that important, at least not relative to the team’s minutes leaders, and I think most Pistons fans accept that – except for when it comes to blowout losses.

There seems to be an underlying belief that blowout losses are the fault of the head coach.

I believe blowouts happen for many different reasons, and I’ve seen no compelling evidence that coaches are more often to blame than other factors.

But if you believe blowouts reflect on the coach, Frank grades poorly.

Defining a blowout is arbitrary, so I’ll show you 10-point, 15-point and 20-point losses. By any of those three measures, the Pistons have been blown out more often under Frank than their winning percentage suggests they would be.

The New Jersey Nets under Frank were also blown out more often than their record suggests.

These bad losses might mean Frank is a terrible coach. They might not. There are so many other uncontrolled variables that I wouldn’t make any definitive conclusions. But, as the evidence mounts against Frank, add this to the pile, even if it alone doesn’t make the case.


  • Feb 25, 20131:40 pm


    The Wizard where horrible at the start of the season, but they were missing John Wall, and NENE was coming back from Injury…players had to fill in…

    But they never stop playing hard for Witmman….. I live in the DMV…he plays their young talent, made adjustments as needed…now their winning more and more often than not….

    They will be much better off as a team…next year because they leaned on the future of the team to carry them..While We leaned on vets most of the year like Prince, Maxiel and Bynum….

    If Joe doesnt sign major talent, and we keep Frank just based off of history ….we willget off to another terrible start…and then finally settle into .500 basketball again…

  • Feb 25, 20132:14 pm
    by Charles D


    The Spurs and the Mavs are also pretty high here (on the 20-point loss count, at least.)  I’m not sure that I’d classify Pop or Carlisle as bad coaches — quite the opposite, in fact.

    It seems to me that the blowout ratio probably has more to do with what a coach does when he sees his team get in a hole by the half. Do you run your best players to try and teach them how to get back in the game, or do you see what you have on the bench. Considering that the Pistons have a pretty good idea of which players will be their young core going forward, and are not so sure about which players currently on the bench can contribute to depth going forward, I think Frank’s approach is sound. I was glad to see Kravtsov, Middleton and English get some run, and I’m also not shedding too many tears about getting better odds in the lottery, to boot.

  • Feb 25, 20133:03 pm
    by CNA5


    I think Frank is a well prepared coach, but I think one of his weaknesses is making an in game adjustment to something he doesn’t predict.
    I could be dead wrong in this, but I picture Frank’s office having a meticulous file system of binders full of stats, diagrams, and tendencies for all opposing teams.
    I think he relies on those things too much and is too slow to recognize when something odd is happening against him (like Mahimi having a career high 6 offensive boards or an average 3 point shooting team shooting 50+% from behind the arc).
    Sometimes you have to throw out your game plan when things don’t go right.  With Frank, it looks like it’s a struggle at times.

    • Mar 2, 201312:16 pm
      by DT72


      Something I’ve been screaming at the TV these last 2 seasons.  He never seems to react fast enough when opposing teams start making a run.  And when he does, he just seems to substibute whoever he was going to substitue no matter what.  He never seems to counter with the right substitution.  We need defense around the basket cause we’re getting hammered there….. Frank thinks it’s time to send Bynum in???????  Sometimes Bynum sparks a scoring run, but he still doesn’t solve the points in the paint problem.  We seem to win almost by accident sometimes.

  • Feb 25, 20133:07 pm


    The Mavs are….yes…but look at what has happened to the team…and look at Carisle Win-Lose record….

    Lets just call a spade a spade… Dumars blew it with Frank… i dont care that Mike Brown was fired, I dont care that Avery Johnson was fired…Dumars should have made them an offer….

    Perfect coaches for a team like this…. Frank is a losing coach that never played the game…not the guy I want yelling at me to play harder or D-Up

    • Feb 25, 20133:53 pm
      by CNA5


      “Frank is a losing coach that never played the game…not the guy I want yelling at me to play harder or D-Up”
      I think there’s a lot of truth to this.  And, I think this is also one of the things that sets Frank back.  You don’t HAVE to play the game at the highest level to know it, but it certainly gives you better insight into what your players are experiencing.
      As far as your coaching suggestions, I don’t like either.  Avery Johnson is a horrible coach.  He’s grating, weak on x’s and o’s, and has a level of arrogance that he never had as a player.  I’m friends with a huge Mavs fan down here in Texas, and you’ll hear a lot of stories that Johnson’s energy and intensity are really the only good things he offers as a coach. 
      As far as Mike Brown, I see him as a permanent first assistant.  He’s just too mellow and friendly to be the bad guy in the big chair.
      But, keep in mind this- Frank was hired in part because of Dave Checkett’s input.  Gores was still feeling things out and wanted another GM to take part in the process.  There were numerous reports that Woodson was Dumars’ guy and Frank was Checkett’s.  With that being said, there’s no way for us to know whether or not Woodson would be better coaching this level of talent, but his success in New York certainly makes us wonder.
      If the Pistons do fire Frank after this season, here’s my list of 5 people they should talk to:
      1.  Jerry Sloan — I think he’s retired, unless a legitimate contender calls him.  I’ll acknowledge this is a pipedream!
      2.  Jeff Van Gundy  — no idea if he wants to leave his cushy gig as an analyst
      3.  Brian Shaw — Top assistant for Vogel and the Pacers
      4.  Nate McMillan — Had some success early on in Portland
      5.  Ron Jeremy… errr… Stan Van Gundy — Tends to annoy players, but good x’s and o’s and adapts style of play to fit his team.

  • Feb 25, 20134:53 pm
    by MIKEYDE248


    Looking at the list of coaches, I wouldn’t say any of them would do any better than Frank.  Never thought either of the Gundy’s were any good, same with Mike Brown.  Sloan or Avery would be about the same as Frank.

    I don’t think they need another assistant coach trying to run the team.  They need someone with some type of a track record as being a head coach.

  • Feb 25, 20138:05 pm
    by JR


    The Pistons keep changing coaches, but not changing the problem: talent. While I like Dumars and think he should stay, the talent acquired and moves he has made over the last five years have not worked out. Keep Frank for another season. Frank has had success in the past and he is a professional if not brilliant coach. If Frank is fired I would suggest Nate McMillan.  

    Dumars will have another chance to overhaul the roster this summer.  Dumars critics should keep in mind he has big hits and big misses.  In another few years Dumars may line up several big hits in a row and build a contender.  

    • Feb 25, 20138:46 pm
      by tarsier



      Dumars has done a terrible job. Frank has done a terrible job. But the players on the team aren’t all that good (in part because of the terrible jobs they’re doing), so what the hell. Let’s give ‘em a bit more time to see if they can just magically turn things around. 

  • [...] PistonPowered. It might not mean he’s a bad coach, necessarily, but the fact that — statistically [...]

  • Feb 26, 20133:31 am
    by Ari M.


    The PIstons have marginal NBA talent.  I don’t care who the coach is.  If anything, Frank has done better than I would have expected with this putrid roster.  He’s improved on Keuster’s winning percentage,, admittedly that is not saying much, but he also probably has less talent than the previous coach, at least as far as veteran contributors.  Morevoer, when you look at the last stretch of games you have to account that Drummond, Knight, and last night Bynum were not available.  3 scoring cogs in a pretty anemic scoring lineup.  I like Lawrence as a coach and think he tries his butt off, but if you don’t have the horses, you can’t win in the NBA, and up and down the roster most teams are more talented than the Pistons.  It’s pretty simple.  If fans want to run Frank out of town before he gets enough to truly turn the team around, fine, but I think you’ll be losing a pretty goood young coach.  If I were in his shoes I wouldn’t have taken the Pistons job and held out ofr a better offer.

    • Feb 26, 20135:53 am
      by T Casey


      You know, teams tend to look worse with a bad coach…

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