FanPost

What If Stan Was Coaching?

We're almost a third of the way through Jacque Vaughn's maiden season, so I feel like this is an appropriate time to start asking 'what-ifs'. So far, this Magic team has exceeded expectations of experts, media, and fans alike, and while it's difficult to pinpoint what exactly can take the most credit for this moderate success, it would be foolish not to say that Vaughn's coaching is having a positive impact on this team. That said, I've got a question:

Would the Orlando Magic have a better record if Stan Van Gundy was still the head coach?


Or alternatively, would the Magic have a worse record if he were still coach, or would it be about the same as it is now?

This is assuming, of course, that the firing of Stan Van Gundy was the only difference this offseason. All other transactions - trades, draftees, roster cuts, etc - are all the exact same as they are now

I ask this because Vaughn and Van Gundy have two radically different coaching styles. Vaughn is somewhat laissez-faire when it comes to coaching during games, while Van Gundy is quite vocal about, well, literally everything there is to yell about in the sport of basketball. Vaughn allows for the free spirit of players on the offensive end, while Van Gundy has an extremely strict set of plays that must be performed well or you lose playing time. There are pros and cons of each coach, and are listed here. (You are more than welcome to list any pros and cons for each coach if and/or when I miss any)

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Jacque Vaughn

Pros - As mentioned above, Vaughn gives the players freedom to create plays as they see fit. This appears to be a good upgrade offensively compared to last year, when most set plays would involve key movement, and when the play would break down the offense could only muster a useless jumper. The current offensive system now allows for more creativity and flow through the offense. This works to Orlando's advantage, as opposing teams have difficulty defending plays that they aren't able to anticipate. On top of that, it has caused Glen Davis to start a mini-breakout, who appears to play better (or at least be more comfortable) when not following a strict set of rules

Another positive for Vaughn is his flexibility as a coach. Very rarely did Van Gundy deviate from his initial gameplan, and had a very consistent rotation that only changed if a player was injured or in foul trouble. Vaughn makes adjustments depending on the opponent and relies more on strategical matchups than expected productivity

Cons - The free-flowing offense is a double-edged sword at times, especially in Big Baby's case. His freedom on offense sometimes causes him to shoot more often than he really should be, and this can stagnate the offense, or in worst cases, completely end runs, when he tries to shoot himself out of a slump. You also end up with players that are afraid to shoot without a green-light despite having open opportunities. Maurice Harkless is a prime example of this, and E'Twaun Moore has been a victim of this as well, when he would rather default to J.J. Redick or Davis instead of driving the lane

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Stan Van Gundy

Pros - Defense, defense, defense. Vaughn's current team is no slouch when it comes to team defense, but Stan is, from my perspective, one of the best defensive-minded coaches in basketball. He hammers the point of defense home, and does not allow any fault on that end of the court. I present Dwight Howard as exhibit A, who won three straight DPOYs under Stan. He is currently playing for offensive-minded Mike D'Antoni, who doesn't stress defense nearly as much as Stan. As a result, Dwight looks lax, lazy, even uninterested on the defensive end, and his numbers have suffered. Stan might be a tyrant, but his defense is nothing short of spectacular

Stemming from that, Stan also manages to squeeze out the best available potential from his players, on both ends of the court. He managed to get a number of mediocre players to play out of their minds during that finals run, young and old, once you consider the careers of Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Rafer Alston, Marcin Gortat, and Courtney Lee. Players may dislike the guy, but there's no question that playing under Stan forces a player to give it his best. It makes me wonder, just how much more effective would Nikola Vucevic, or Maurice Harkless, or Arron Afflalo be if Stan were forcing them to give it their all this year?

Cons - I already mentioned before that Stan's rotations with this current roster might be highly suspect. Stan much prefers playing with an eight man rotation, and rarely deviates between the players. He also puts defensive ability over offensive ability when it comes to players, so it's certainly possible that some of these young players would be in Stan's doghouse right now and have their growth stunted because they couldn't keep up with a defensive scheme in practice. Moreover, with this current roster, there are a lot of players that are just about equal in talent and athletic ability, so it would be extremely difficult to cut down a small rotation with so many comparable players

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Again, I'm sure there's a lot of angles here that I missed, and you're welcome to mention anything that you've seen from this season as well as what you expect would happen in this alternate universe. I've tried to be unbiased in this entire post, and to be quite frank, I still can't decide how successful the team would be if Stan was still the coach

Thanks for reading this post filled with nothing but pure conjecture

This FanPost was made by a member of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community, and is to be treated as the opinions and views of its author, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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