Welcome to offseason coverage of Hoosiers In The NBA! Today I am looking at Victor Oladipo’s Orlando Magic as they search for their fourth coach in three years. Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:
Even though it feels like he was just drafted yesterday, Victor Oladipo will be entering into his fourth season with the Orlando Magic this coming November. He’ll also be playing for his fourth different head coach.
After Scott Skiles stepped down due to disagreements with management, the Magic are now in a dire position as they need to find a coach that can help the team build on the progress of last season. Before we get to potential replacements, let’s take a look at why the Magic are in this position.
Skiles’ entire tenure, from his campaigning for the job until he quit last week, has actually been very shaky in hindsight. Those mid-season lineup changes thought to be smart moves to help the Magic get out of a slump (such as moving Oladipo to the bench) now seem more like warning signs of a coach who didn’t quite trust his team. In fact, the midseason trades that sent away the young and talented Tobias Harris in exchange for veterans Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova were likely Skiles’ idea (he coached both in Milwaukee).
That trade may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back as it seems what ended up making Skiles leave was the fact that he and GM Rob Hennigan had very different ideas of how the team should be built. The Magic have been very patient trying to develop all of their young talent and thus want to reap the rewards. Meanwhile Skiles has always been a coach who not only preferred veterans but has a shorter than usual leash when it comes to rookies. Mario Hezonja was selected fifth in last year’s NBA Draft in hopes of giving the Magic a talented wing who would be a much needed three-point shooter, yet he ended up only playing 17.9 minutes per game this season (ranking ninth on the team).
It’s clear that the Magic want to stick with their young guys and thus the next coach needs to be someone who is good at developing players. The biggest name being attached to the Magic’s opening is former Indiana Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel and honestly there might not be a better candidate.
While some players (like Oladipo) did make improvements on the defensive end, the team as a whole was still mediocre despite defense being Skiles’ expertise. While it’s possible that Vogel might not be able to fix the problem either, there’s no better defensive coach available than the man who made the Pacers a top 10 defensive team each of the last five seasons.
The main problem with hiring Vogel is that every team with an opening wants him. Unfortunately this puts the Magic at a huge disadvantage not because it isn’t an appealing job but because Orlando wants to take its time trying to find the next coach. Vogel, as well as potential candidate David Blatt, probably don’t want to wait for Orlando to make its decision unless they are guaranteed the job.
Instead it might be wiser to go after coaches that aren’t getting a lot of traction right now. The perfect example of that would be Mark Jackson. While many are split on just how good he is as a coach, there’s no denying that Jackson played a big role in developing the Golden State Warriors before Steve Kerr took them over the top. Orlando would provide a similar situation with its group of promising players. I doubt the Magic will reach Golden State’s success, but Jackson is more than capable of leading this team to the playoffs on yearly basis.
Yet the right answer for the Magic might be the least exciting option. Adrian Griffin is considered one of the most promising assistant coaches in the NBA and having coached in Orlando this past season, he may be the most logical choice of all. Despite all the turmoil, the Magic did improve last year under Skiles and his coaching staff, and it would make a lot of sense for Orlando to try and keep the same coaching staff even if the boss has left.
Similar to how a young quarterbacks tends to struggle when they have several offensive coordinators, younger NBA players can be hampered by having too many different head coaches. They have to simultaneously learn a new coach’s style while trying to adapt to playing on the professional level. Oladipo has had a pretty good career so far, but it’s very possible that he can’t reach his all-star potential because he has to keep learning new coaching styles. Griffin would bring some stability for a player who may need just that to take his game to the next level.