Ever wonder why your favorite player finds success when he moves to another team? Sure, some of that may be due to the fact that the player is maturing and developing skills in the off-season to add to his arsenal. The world knows that NBA players (and hopefuls) are doing everything they can to improve their bodies and their games thanks to Instagram, Snapchat and every other social media outlet that allows them to reach their fans. Other times, that player has been misused by the previous coaching staff and their talents were not in their optimal setting. Trying to force a player to be something he’s not is inefficient. So is a coach whose roster is filled with players that won’t be able to succeed in the system they know best. With the limited number of players and coaches that are competent enough to work in the elite ranks, organizations need to be as creative as possible in upgrading all areas of development. Some of those can be extremely complex, some can be minor in detail. Sometimes you just need to fit a square peg in a square hole, and that is what Denver accomplished in hiring David Adelman to run their offense.
Most coaching changes come when the team is on the verge of combusting and management is looking for a wholesale substitution. Denver is on a path to competing with a great young core that acquired veteran Paul Millsap to put them over the top. But that was not the only move Tim Connelly made to enhance his team. In a genius move, Connelly and Mike Malone added a bright offensive mind to an already proficient coaching staff. This bonus from the bench should pay dividends with one player in particular, Nikola Jokic.
Adelman has learned from one of the best, his dad Rick, on how to utilize smart, passing-friendly bigs to create nightmares for scouting reports and help side defenses. In a very small sample size, Nikola Vucevic (15.9% to 16.9%) saw an uptick in his AST% last year in Orlando and looked like a genuine threat to find open teammates along the 3PT line. And now, with his move to the Nuggets, Adelman will have the best passing big in the NBA (arguably in recent history) at his disposal. Nikola Jokic enjoyed a marvelous 2016-17 season posting averages of 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists. His AST% was an astounding 28.8%!!! Square peg (Adleman’s system) meet square hole (Jokic’s talents).
Since history tends to repeat itself, and the best basketball minds steal from the best that came before them, let’s take a quick look through history to see what we can expect out of Jokic this season. (Excuse some of the grainy footage)
Jokic-Divac Comparison (I’m not the only one seeing it)
Now, I’m not saying that Paul Millsap will play the Chris Webber role to Jokic’s Divac, but it’s not that far-fetched. Personally, I’m excited to see a rising star on the court paired with a rising star on the bench. Saying their strengths go together well may be putting it lightly and we should all rejoice in what’s to come.
Adding a coach with a distinct skill set that matches your roster is an underrated move. It certainly is cheaper and easier to manage than firing/hiring an entire staff or trading for coach-friendly players. And for the young assistant coaches, let’s hope this is the start of a new trend where GM/Presidents are starting to scout the brains behind the strategy as well.