Now that the Nuggets have fired George Karl after 8.5 years of coaching, they are left at a crossroads in their approach to how they want to win basketball games. Where will they go?
Lionel Hollins seems to be a very good coach for the style he plays which is: slow it down, grind it out, focus almost entirely on defense to the exclusion of much of the offensive game. On offense he tends to want to throw the ball into the post and let his bigs go to work (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph) and rely on one outside shooter to make plays. It seems that this harkens back to the bygone era of center-based basketball the NBA propagated through most of its history. An enigma in a high-flying, score a lot league with athletic wing players and very little inside game (a la the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat).
There is a great breakdown of Hollins personal coaching philosophy from Grizzly Bear Blues. I recommend you click the link in the previous sentence.
The Nuggets roster is far closer to the latter than it is in the style of what Hollins wants to coach. Athletic centers. Play-making wing players. High flying fast paced players who thrive on transition and pace. This seems to be anathema to the style that Hollins prefers to coach. If the rumors are true, the Nuggets are pursuing a coach that runs diametrically opposed to the players they have assembled on this current team.
Denver plans to reach out for permission to speak to Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins soon, league source tells Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 6, 2013
Shaw and Lionel Hollins are Denver's top targets at this point, sources say. The Nuggets have also lodged formal request with Memphis.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 6, 2013
What would this mean? Well, either candidate mentioned by Adrian Wojnariowski and Berger in those tweets would be a very dramatic change in style for the Nuggets. One is ground and pound, the other would be a purveyor of Tex Winter's Triangle offense that was the favored approach of Phil Jackson. Both are not high paced offenses.
Focusing specifically on Hollins, however, it would seem to indicate that the Nuggets roster would be incompatible with Hollins approach. Can you imagine JaVale McGee in a Hollins offense? How about the much maligned Kosta Koufos? Taking all of that aside, where would Ty Lawson fit into a slow it down, ground and pound offense? Could he survive in that system when George Karl's offense seemed tailor-made to fit his strengths? What would this mean for the potential of re-signing Andre Iguodala?
Hollins would represent such a dramatic change in style from their current approach that it would almost certainly signal a giant re-tooling of the Nuggets roster. With the team seemingly hard capped by Stan Kroenke at their current salary ... there is not much room for movement if they manage to re-sign Iguodala (which is very much up in the air right now).
My own preference would be Stan Van Gundy, and his "style" would be suited for exploiting JaVale McGee's talents as well as the Nuggets plethora of wing players. He has yet to be mentioned among the "rumored" candidates so far. Would he even take the job after saying on Sandy Clough's show that he would hesitate to take the Nuggets job if George Karl was fired? At this point we don't know.
Right now, from the early indications, the Nuggets want Hollins. Not entirely sure what to think about that other than this ... if he and his coaching style is on the horizon, be prepared for a very dramatic shift in the Nuggets roster. Change is ever present on the horizon, and this is the most chaotic Nuggets offseason since Carmelo Anthony told Josh Kroenke he wanted to go to New York.
Uncertain times in Nuggets Nation. Meanwhile, answer the poll below on who you would like as the Nuggets coach going forward.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78