I'm not sure if Dave plans to bring Nate in on the player analysis he's doing, so I thought I'd seek some thoughts.
Dave, if you do plan on discussing Coach Nate, feel free to delete this diary.
It's been an amazing off season for Nate, and that seems a great understatement. It must have been like an extended Christmas for him. His prized rookie Roy kept exceeding expectations, Outlaw dominated when given the opportunity, we got the #1 draft pick in Greg Oden, we sent Zach packing and gained the opportunity for a sturdy defense and more diverse offense, and Team USA has obliterated all the competition. Could it have gotten any better for him?
This is where I'd normally quote Murphy's Military Laws. "If your advance is going well, you're walking into an ambush." Since, we haven't actually played a game yet this year, I'll reserve my doom-sayer paranoia.
Coach Nathaniel "Nate" McMillan has had a busy summer, but what can we expect for next season?
- Recipe testing. Once again the younger players have a chance to show their dependability to the coach while he tests various line-ups to find the right mix. With Roy, Aldridge, and Oden virtually guaranteed starting roles, it's up to the other players to earn the supporting cast parts. I expect this to take a few months to work through, but once it's done, he'll ride a set rotation into the ground for the sole purpose of seasoning the team's future.
- Defense wins championships. True or not, it's a mentality Nate shares and now he'll have a roster more conducive to executing it. With Oden and LA manning the middle, the perimeter players will be given more opportunity to be aggressive on defense. Mr. Sonic made a reputation as a strong defender, and he'll continue to focus on the team's improvement in this area. If a player cannot guard man-to-man, they'll know where to channel any penetrations into help.
- Faster paced offense. I don't expect to be the Phoenix Suns, but with the players we have it would be stupid not to take advantage of our strengths. Attacking before the defense is prepared is one of the best ways to get a high percentage opportunity with the lack of experience we have. As experience is gained, an emphasis will be placed on execution and precision. Getting a set rotation in place early will accelerate this process.
- Offensive diversity. Regardless of what anyone says, Zach was a solid and reliable offensive contributor. His problems were that he was a sieve on defense and the sole focus of our offense. It's a five player team on the floor, and I think Nate will try to use everyone out there now that Zach is gone. Nate's coaching experience the last two years with Coach K and Team USA should start paying dividends in his approach and style of coaching.
- No more Sarge. It's not Nate's team anymore, it's Roy's. Roy will be the one to run the team, leaving Nate free to teach the Offense and Defense. Like Popovich and Duncan, Nate will have a team leader ready and willing to take on the leadership mantle, getting the rest of the team to fall into line. Let's hope Darius understands who the big dog is now. Now that Nate doesn't have the Babysitter hat on, how much more productive will he and his assistants be?
- Men's Warehouse endorsement. Having set the standard in coaching style and apparel, the company will seek to lock Coach Nate into a lucrative, long-term contract to endorse their store. After a couple years of getting knocked out of the playoffs, he'll come out with the "Jack Ramsay Line" of retro-seventies suits in an effort to break-out of the funk. Although the look will be an assault on the senses and a true fashion crime, it will succeed in getting the Blazers their first ring in over 30 years. Nate will go on to win 12 titles in Portland, each time wearing the same series of suits. When Nate retires as the winning-est coach in NBA History, he loans his suits to the Hall of Fame. After staying in the HOF for 10 years Nate gives them to Brandon Roy, the newest coach of the Blazers and six-time Finals MVP. After winning the Championship his first year, Coach Roy christens the suits Excalibur, and a new legend is born. Que the music!