first i'll start off by saying that i think Nate is a good coach. when people suggest that we (the organization) fire him and that he's the reason we lose games, i always defend him. to this point i've mostly thought it was the personnel/injuries hurting his coaching, and not the other way around. besides, there's no obvious candidates for replacing him.
but the more i've thought about it, i've reached this conclusion: Nate is the kind of coach who (with a complete and healthy roster) can get you 50+ wins in the regular season but won't ever coach deep into the playoffs.there are two reasons for this:
1) from what i hear, Nate wants to have a 5-man first unit and a 5-man second unit. that means the team on the floor is going to play one of two ways. pretty predictable, right? opposing coaches seem to know this. it always seems like Nate is reacting to what another coach does, but not until we're losing by a significant margin. if the opponent goes small, Nate eventually reacts. if the opponent goes big, Nate eventually reacts. Nate is known as a defensive coach, and this is totally a defenive mentality. i can't remember the last time i saw Nate aggressively put in a lineup that made another coach do something out of the ordinary. so when Nate reacts to these opposing lineups, he's actually doing something that's out of the ordinary for our own players. typically it will take a little while for our guys to find their "game flow", and we can't afford those wasted possessions and energy. this also causes our players to get confused/frustrated about their role on the team. Nic is the best current example of this; some nights he gets 30min, other nights he gets 10min. i'm no pro, but in an 82-game season i expect players can't really get into a rhythm with this kind of inconsistency. same goes for Rudy, whose minutes were most consistent during his rookie year. so as long as opposing coaches continue to do this, they'll get the best of Nate.
2) the mentality of everybody on the entire roster seems to be to try and win while exerting as little energy/effort as possible. we observe this regularly when we lead early in the 4th quarter and use the full 24-seconds of each offensive possession, keep the ball out of the opponent's hands, force a bad shot at the end of the shot clock and lose all the momentum/rhythm that got us the lead in the first place. i understand that it's an 82-game season and it's important to conserve energy, but there's other ways to secure a win. i can't imagine Nate suggesting to our players to do anything different than this.
i'd rather see a 9-man rotation with versatility and equal/consistent minutes. you'd have your typical five positions:
and four additional positions:
CG/1.5 = combo guard
CW/2.5 = combo wing
PW/3.5 = power wing
CB/4.5 = combo big
and this would be our 9-man rotation:
1.5 Rudy (for now, but i'd love to change/improve this spot)
everybody gets 25-30 minutes/night, period. this conserves energy/minutes over the 82-game season while everybody knows that they're going to play and doesn't wonder if they'll get pulled early. i don't know how the substitutions would work for this, but somebody could figure it out. these reduced minutes would go a long way for Camby and Miller, who aren't getting any younger/stronger. and also Roy wouldn't experience as much soreness, or have to sit out the second game of a back-to-back, etc.
what can you do with this 9-man rotation? you essentially have three guards (Miller, Rudy, Roy) three wings (Matthews, Batum, Cunningham) and three bigs (LMA, Camby, Pryz). this is good balance, and you can put together any type of lineup you want/need. if one of the starters gets into early foul trouble you have one or two guys who can come in at that position. if somebody gets injured (God forbid) you can still do just fine with an 8-man rotation (30-min/night/player).
how do you implement this? in practices and in games, play these 9 guys in every 5-man combination you can until they start to grow familiar enough with each other that the game flow doesn't change when one or two guys sub out. that might sound difficult but i swear i see it every time i watch the L*kers play.
the other 6 roster spots? use them as insurance for your older and injury-risk players who are part of the 9-man rotation (Miller, Roy, Camby, Pryz), you can also take on a project/upside player (or, you know, someone who's out for the year because of m*crofracture surgery)
and finally, as for the team mentality, HOW ABOUT YOU STEP ON THE OPPONENTS' THROAT! play hard until they're so discouraged that they throw in the towel and put in their rookies/scrubs. sure seems to work for Oregon Ducks Football (starters get lots of rest in most 4th quarters)... and some of the best players in the NBA have this step-on-your-throat mentality (Kobe and Gasol, Rose, LeBron and D.Wade, Nash, Melo). i think this mentality would go a long way for team chemistry and morale. just ask the Ducks...