[Editor's Note: Thanks for saving me some time, Ressailance. Adelman doesn't need to go anywhere. -- Tom]
In case you guys haven’t noticed, I don’t make many Fanpost or Fanshots, two to be exact and they were both about the Jazz, go figure. But after reading the comments of a few of our members and the harsh backlash at Rick Adelman over the course of our five game losing streak, I feel the need to shed a bit of perspective on the Rick Adelman situation.
I understand we’re all upset, hurt, and angry at some of the coaching techniques of Adelman. Frankly, it’s understandable. At least two of the last five games the Rockets were in position to win and should have won but because of a few questionable calls Rick made at the end of the games and our inherent lack of defense (damn you Milsap) both ended in heartbreaking lose.
But this is not the time to overreact or demand a change at the coaching position. Rick is a fantastic coach. Highly touted as a "players coach", running one of the best offensive schemes in the league, he has earned the overwhelming respect of his players and peers around the league. Currently he’s easily a top 5 coach in the NBA. But don’t take my word for it, his credentials speak for themselves.
Adelman is the winner of 900+ games making him one of the most winning coaches in NBA history, only 3 other active NBA coaches have more wins (Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, and George Karl). He has coached for four different teams, and has found great success at nearly every stop, joining a small club of coaches to win 60+ games with two different teams. Sixteen of his 18 seasons, Rick Adelman’s teams have qualified for the playoffs. He’s gone to the NBA Finals twice and the Western Conference Finals four times.
Winning percentages and playoffs runs are all nice of course, but what about Rick Adelman’s coaching techniques have paid off statistically speaking? For one, Rick’s offense has finished top 5 in scoring twelve times in his coaching tenure. But defensively his teams get it done as well, he has had 7 teams finish top 5 in scoring defense, two of those teams where in Houston.
Rick’s history with the Rockets is noteworthy in and of themselves, after two seasons with the team (’07-’08; ’08-’09), his record of 108-56, a winning percentage of .659, was the highest in our illustrious franchise’s history. Also a first in Houston Rockets history, the team won 50+ games in three straight seasons; two of those season where under Rick’s watchful care.
For those who insist Rick’s teams do not play any defense, maybe we can put that fact to rest. During the ’08-’09 season, Houston averaged 98.4 points per game (their best offensive output in nearly a decade) while pairing that with a seventh ranked defense that allowed only 94.4 points per game. In addition to this, in ’07-’08, Houston ranked 4th in points allowed and 2nd in field goal percentage defense. While a coach in Golden State, Adelman helped the team reduce its points allowed from 111.1 per game to 103.1, the fewest points allowed by the franchise in 20 years.
There are many, many other "firsts" and "franchise-bests" and "league-records" that Rick Adelman has accomplished in his career in Houston alone, including a magical 22-game winning streak which included a franchise record 12 straight road wins (and just to prove this was not a fluke and Rick just happened to be along for the ride, his Portland Trailblazers won an impressive 16 games straight back in the ‘90s).
But Rick’s influence in his coaching tenure in Houston goes well beyond the stats and facts I’ve listed above. He’s been forced to change the style of play 180° since the days of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to this current squad of Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, and Aaron Brooks. And he’s done it as well as can be expected given the circumstances, I propose, better than anyone else could have done. From the days of hard-nosed defense and low scoring battles under JVG, Rick came in and implemented a beautiful and effective offense while continuing to insist his teams play defense. Yet he inherited a roster in a constant state of flux, with star players in and out of the line-up, thus Adelman was forced to mold his team’s play around the personnel available to him. The team transformed from a defensive juggernaut molded around the presence of Yao Ming, to an offensive juggernaut molded around scoring of Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, and Kevin Martin.
Defense wins championships. But offensive keeps you competitive. And given the group of players that Rick Adelman has, the most we can hope for is competitiveness. This isn’t because Rick doesn’t like defense, it’s simply because his players aren’t defensive studs. The unfortunate part of this team is we have a large collection of players who are terrific offensive players but don’t play a bit of defense, and a few defensive players that can’t play offense. This is no fault of the coach’s, but a simply the reality of this team, a reality that will remain until new personnel are brought in.
So before we go on our witch hunt, before we call for the guillotine, before we boil the tar and pluck the feathers, let’s remember what Rick has done with this team. Let’s remember the 42-40 year without a star player, let’s remember the magical run of 22 games, let’s remember taking the Lakers to 7 games without Yao or Tracy, let’s remember how awful our offense use to be under JVG, let’s remember how much this team has overachieved and fought through injuries with Rick Adelman holding them together the last two season, and let’s remember there are maybe 3 other coaches in the NBA better at what they do than Rick Adelman and none of them are coming to Houston.
Does Rick make questionable in game calls? Yes. Does he have weird rotations that make us all scratch our heads? Yes. Every coach does things that leave the fanbase wondering what he’s thinking, but replacing Rick would only bring in a new set of head scratching decision making and bad calls.
So in conclusion of my 1,164 word rant, I trust Adelman’s techniques, I trust his decision making, I trust him as the leader of this team, if only because history has proven him to be one of the greats and a Hall of Fame coach. There isn’t another coach whom I think would be able to both deal with the injuries and situations presented to him while remaining competitive in a tough Western Conference. Thus I will not call for his firing, and I will remind all of you who do of what he has done and has meant to this team and franchise the past several years. Please keep your finger off the Panic Button until this team starts underachieving, which, given Adelman’s track record, will never happen.
Thanks to NBA.com's profile on Rick Adelman, where I got most of my information.