David Blatt (83-40 NBA regular-season record)
David Blatt never got a fair shake with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was doomed to fail the minute LeBron James announced he was coming back to Cleveland.
Remember, Blatt was supposed to be taking over a young team and had some leeway with organization when it came to success. However, everything was expedited once James came to Cleveland.
Surprisingly, he met those expedited goals and helped get the Cavs the 2015 NBA Finals. However, his first-year success was not good enough as the Cavs fired Blatt halfway through the season. Even though his stint with the Cavs was rocky, it is clear Blatt is a solid basketball coach.
Prior to coming to the NBA, Blatt had tremendous success as a head coach in Europe. He was a four-time Israeli League Coach of the Year Winner (1996, 2002, 2011, and 2014). Also, he was the Russian Super League Coach of the Year in 2005, and the Euroleague Coach of the Year in 2014.
The downside to Blatt is that he had trouble connecting with players on his roster. When a coach cannot connect with his players, the players tend to listen to all of his advice.
In Blatt’s defense, both sides are responsible for this issue. A team full of superstars and veterans are not suddenly going to listen to a guy in his first stint as an NBA coach. In other words, James and the other Cavs players did not always listen to Blatt because a part of them felt that they knew more about the NBA than he did.
Blatt would work with the Pacers because he is a proven winner. He has won everywhere he has been because he has always found ways to utilize the best of his players’ abilities. The key to his success will be if players will listen to him.
The Indiana Pacers could move players around in an effort to get younger this offseason. If that is the case, Blatt would a good fit because there a better chance young NBA players will listen to him better than older ones. He will still have to earn the respect of Paul George and Monta Ellis, but persuading two players to listen to you is easier than trying to persuade a whole roster.
Next: Mike D'Antoni