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[Frank vs Casey] To whom do they compare?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by DieHard Rocket, May 17, 2011.

  1. DieHard Rocket

    DieHard Rocket Contributing Member

    Sep 9, 2000
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    Let me first say that I will be fairly happy with either Casey or Frank as head coach. I thought I would look into some coaching paths of today's good/great coaches and compare them to our two main candidates. Primarily, I wanted to see if there is a trend of former head coaches improving upon their previous stints and achieving more (in the case of Frank), or if it is better to pass on those types and give a long-time assistant a shot (Casey). For purposes of this post, I am somewhat discounting the fact that Casey has been a HC, although that is probably a positive. But you certainly cannot say he is a failed former HC after only 1+ season, whereas Frank had 5 seasons.

    Also, I'll preface this with the assumption that we will have to acquire talent to make us a contender during their tenure. Talent is most important to winning titles. This post looks strictly at coaching backgrounds and what has led to more success in the NBA, and ignores coaching styles and personalities. I tried to focus on teams/coaches that actually had talent - for example, I threw out much of Mike Dunleavy's stint with LAC and didn't even look at teams like the Warriors because they have never really had playoff talent consistently and/or were run terribly. Obviously not all coaches compare to our candidates (guys like Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, Rick Adelman are all old school and very different from our situation; likewise, the Nate McMillans and Avery Johnson's that had quick roads to HC after retirement don't really compare).

    Let's first look at the candidates backgrounds, most of which is info you might already know:

    Lawrence Frank

    • Grizzlies asst. for 3 years under Brian Hill
    • Nets asst. 2000-2004 under Byron Scott
    • HC of Nets for 5 season and change...high/low win total of 49/34, never made it out of semifinals

    Dwane Casey

    • Asst. under Eddie Sutton at Kentucky 1985-1990
    • 5 years as HC in Japan
    • Asst. for Sonics under Karl/Westphal/Mcmillan for 11 seasons beginning in 1994
    • 43-59 as HC for Wolves for 1+ seasons (fired with a 20-20 record with a lineup of KG, Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Mike James, and Trenton Hassell :eek:)

    And now a look at some the good/great ones that compare. At the bottom of each, I point out which path it favors. Either Frank, with prior head coaching experience, or Casey, with little to no NBA head coaching experience.

    Greg Popovich

    • D3 coach for 8 seasons starting in 1979
    • 4 seasons as Spurs assistant under Larry Brown, 2 seasons under Don Nelson in GS
    • Became Spurs GM in 1994, HC in 1996

    Favors: Casey. I don't like the comparison too much, but it's somewhat worthy. Pops didn't have to learn from a previous experience to grow as a coach -- but having Tim Duncan helps.

    Doc Rivers

    • No prior coaching experience before becoming HC
    • Coached 4 years at a mediocre Orlando team with little success. Highest wins was 44, never got out of the first round.
    • Won 45 games with an overachieving Celtics team his first year, then went through rebuilding before landing Allen and Garnett. The rest is history.

    Favors: Frank. I see a strong resemblance in career to Frank here. Coached a team lacking overall talent and riding one superstar (Mcgrady/Kidd), although Kidd had Vince Carter and Jefferson too, but with no real big man to speak of. It could certainly be argued that Frank would do well if given a team of balanced talent. ​

    Rick Carlisle

    • 5 seasons as asst. under Fitch/Daly for Nets
    • 3 seasons as asst. under Carlesemo for Blazers
    • 3 seasons as asst. under Bird for Pacers (ECF and Finals appearances)
    • As HC with Detoit/Indy/Dallas: 50 wins (five times), 60 wins in '03/'04, two ECF appearances, WCF appearance

    Favors: Casey. A long time assistant under some very good coaches. Didn't fail as a HC initially but was pushed out, otherwise he might have been in Detroit for a long time. That's why I count him for Casey instead of Frank. Won 50 games with little talent his first year (Stackhouse, Ben Wallace, Atkins, and Cliff Robinson!). IMO would easily have a title if he had legit superstar all of these years, and might get it this year with Dirk. ​

    Now that you see where I am going with this, I'll just list some coaches who's path favors each candidate (and in some cases disfavors). Green is a positive comparison, black is neutral, and red is negative.

    Coaches that favor Casey (long-time assistant under good/respected coaches, little HC experience):​

    • Greg Popovich
    • Rick Carlisle
    • Tom Thibodeaux
    • Mike Brown (gets a lot of flak but we'll consider him successful for this purpose)
    • Jeff Van Gundy (successful immediately in NY ... not considering Houston stint since he was a pretty sure thing at that point)
    • Lionel Hollins
    • Mo Cheeks
    • Jeff Bzdelik (long time asst, didn't do much with a solid Nuggets team)

    Coaches that favor Frank (failed stint as a HC and given a second shot somewhere else):

    • Doc Rivers
    • Jerry Sloan (failed with Bulls before Jazz)
    • Stan Van Gundy (didn't necessarily fail, but couldn't win a title with Shaq and Wade and Riley got impatient)
    • Mike Dunleavy (successful early with Lakers, but that was Riley's team, then failed, only to achieve success in Portland many years later)
    • Flip Saunders (neutral on him but for this I will give him a positive result; did well in second stint with Detroit, but never reached the finals with championship caliber teams in Minny and Detroit)
    • Vinny Del Negro (TBD)
    • Scott Skiles (good comparison IMO - Skiles had decent teams, like Frank, but never enough talent to go very far)
    • Eddie Jordan (moderate success with Washington, but never made much noise and then failed in Philly).
    In summary, I think we can all see that any coach is only as good as the players on their team and there isn't really a right and wrong method to hiring a coach. Plenty of coaches have done well in second stints. Doc Rivers wouldn't be anything without the big three, as we saw in Orlando, and Rick Carlisle might be a Hall of Famer in waiting if he had a top 5 player all of these years.

    But, given the two choices, I feel much more comfortable with the Casey types. A lot of those guys were long time assistants that took over good teams and pushed them even further -- these are the guys I think have a decent shot to win it all even without a top five player (especially Carlisle and Thibs), whereas the Frank types (with the exception of Dunleavy in Portland) need at least one absolute MVP type guy to even have a remote shot or make a deep run.

    Frank certainly didn't have a well rounded team to work with in NJ, but I feel like he could've achieved a little more. I think we know more about Frank's potential and his ceiling, whereas Casey is still relatively unknown but might have a higher perceived ceiling. The run that Dallas is making and the fact that he has coached with solid guys like Carlisle and George Karl really sells me on him and puts him above Frank in my mind. Add in the fact that he has a business degree and I don't see how Morey can't be dead set on him.

    Feel free to add to this list if you have any other comparisons. This is far from exhaustive research.
    1 person likes this.
  2. spaceage808

    spaceage808 Member

    Jun 26, 2008
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    thanks for the post, i hope you are right. neither of the names excite me, but they could certainly end up surprising me in a good way.
  3. LabMouse

    LabMouse Member

    Jun 27, 2008
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    I prefer to hire Lawrence Frank as the rockets head coach among three although neither of them is going to impress me much. Frank at least had a head coach job experience for winning (also losing lots), you never know who is good, but I guess Les likes Frank.
  4. BleedRocketsRed

    BleedRocketsRed Contributing Member

    Jul 15, 2009
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    Frank: Tim Floyd
  5. Plowman

    Plowman Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 1999
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    This is going to sound odd (wouldn't be the first time,eh), but let me try to give a brief explanation.

    I see Casey as having some CD in him. I know many people think of CD as a GM.....but he's been much more.
    Like CD Casey is an NBA lifer with all the respect and most of the attributes that come with that.
    He's a communicator and a teacher who has worked his way up handling just about every post imaginable. This experience gives him a huge edge as to player evaluation, interaction with players, coaches, and referees ....just a top to bottom hands on feel for the game. Guys want to play for coaches like him. If someone actually agrees maybe they can expound on this a bit more. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
    Casey just might provide the perfect balance to Morey.
  6. DieHard Rocket

    DieHard Rocket Contributing Member

    Sep 9, 2000
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    I thought about him, but his track record was nothing like either of these guys. He was purely a college guy. Unless you are referring to personality/coaching philosophy.

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