HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The Art of NBA Ego Management
By Travis Heath
One of the great challenges in professional sports involves managing the egos of the modern day professional athlete. The sense of entitlement and the power afforded the players as a result of multi-million dollar salaries presents a challenging scenario for even the most seasoned NBA coaches.
As proven last week by the Los Angeles Lakers, how hard a coach works or his knowledge of the game is not enough for him to keep a job. I had the good fortune of being coached by Mike Brown during a summer camp some years ago. During our brief time together, it became readily apparent how much he knew and also how hard he worked.
Of course, when he coached me he was simply coaching a group of promising high school players. Coaching a star-studded roster as a member of arguably the NBA’s most storied franchise proved to be a completely different challenge.
As a psychologist and consultant to NBA teams and other athletes and coaches, ego management is now something that fascinates me and occupies a great deal of my time. While the Lakers decided to pass on Phil Jackson (perhaps the greatest ego manager of all-time), it’s still timely to discuss eight principles that distinguish the best ego managers from the rest of the pack.
Raptors’ Landry Fields Not a Bust After All
By Stephen Brotherston
No one is debating that the Toronto Raptors overpaid to sign restricted free agent Landry Fields away from the New York Knicks, that unfortunately is just the cost of prying young talent out of the hands of another team. While Toronto had ulterior moves at the time as well, the Raptors did believe they were adding another productive player to their roster. However, Fields has been anything but productive in his first five regular season games in Toronto.
Fields started 143 games for the Knicks and averaged 30 minutes per contest over his first two seasons, but in Toronto, head coach Dwane Casey was justified in holding him to just 21.4 minutes per game. With the lowest utilization rate of his NBA career, Fields was turning the ball over a career high 16.5 percent of the time and the career 47.4 percent shooter couldn’t find the bottom of the net to save his life. Fields wasn’t just missing open jump shots; he was completely blowing uncontested layups on his way to a 20.8 percent shooting average.
The shooter who couldn’t shoot and turned the ball over at a high rate was becoming a major disappointment, but Fields finally came clean after the game in Dallas about what was going wrong.
More Coaches On The Hot Seat
One Down, Two More To Go?: Ask anyone in the professional coaching world and they will all tell you that coaches are hired to ultimately be fired. Firing a coach is the easiest way to enact change in a floundering organization. To be fair, most coaches who get fired are not necessarily to blame, it’s simply easier to try a new voice in the process than to make wholesale trades and roster changes mid-season.
The Los Angeles Lakers pulled the trigger on Mike Brown last week, and while the next head coach to be fired likely won’t be let go nearly as quick as Brown was, there are a couple of coaches that should be concerned about their future because their teams have looked terrible on the floor.
Knicks Remain Perfect, Streak to 6-0
By Tommy Beer
The Knicks took their perfect 5-0 record into San Antonio on Thursday night, in much-hyped showdown between the teams with the two best records in the NBA. Considering that the Knicks hadn’t won in San Antonio in a decade, and the Spurs were playing extremely well again this season (winners of seven of their first eight contests), it was widely assumed that New York would have to put fourth an A+ effort in order to leave with a win and their undefeated status still intact.
However, their top gun, Carmelo Anthony, was out of sync offensively. Coming into the game as the NBA’s leading scorer, Melo never found his rhythm and finished with a season-low nine points on just 3-of-12 shooting. The Knicks, collectively, were wildly inaccurate from the free-throw line as well; the starting five shot hit just 61 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe. In addition, New York was pounded on the glass much of the night, getting outrebounded 48-40.
With seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Knickerbockers found themselves by 12 points to a veteran-laden Spurs team that has made a living closing out games on their home turf.
DeMar DeRozan Preparing To Dominate?
By Bill Ingram
The Toronto Raptors have been something of a puzzle over the last few seasons. They’ve had plenty of talent and a respected head coach, but until last year they didn’t seem to have a solid direction.
Now, with the team emerging from their first full training camp under second-year head coach Dwane Casey and with a star-caliber point guard in Kyle Lowry at the helm, expectations are at an all-time high for the Raptors.
One of the primary reasons why the Raptors are expected to be in the playoff mix once they get healthy is the anticipated emergence of DeMar DeRozan, who just inked a contract extension that will keep him in Toronto for the foreseeable future.
Derrick Favors Is Becoming A Star in Utah
By Stephen Brotherston
In a crowded Utah Jazz frontcourt where minutes have been hard to come by, Derrick Favors is carving out a place for himself deserving of a third overall draft pick. Since being traded to the Jazz in the deal that sent Deron Williams to the Nets at the 2011 trade deadline, Favors has been stuck behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. This year, however, he’s getting noticed despite the internal competition.
“It’s difficult, but they understand the competition of the position,” Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin explained. “Al, Paul, Enes [Kanter], Derrick and Jeremy Evans, who is a guy on the outside looking in, deserve minutes on the floor.
“I think [Favors] has a better understanding [now] of what it’s going to take for him to be successful in this league.”