The thing that struck me most about this year's NBA GM Survey was the fact that the Houston coaching staff was almost completely shut out (only J.B. Bickerstaff gets a mention). Kevin McHale is definitely a player's coach; I would go so far as to say he's even a fan's coach. But as the survey indicates, he sure doesn't get any love from the GMs. I'm not saying it's time to start looking for a new coach, but I am hoping to see the same kind of growth out of McHale that he expects out of the players.
To summarize the findings:
The GMs did not rank McHale in the top 10% of overall head coaches. No one expected him to rank in the top 10%, but what kind of team would the Rockets be with one of the best coaches in the league? In fact, he didn't rank at all in any of the four sub-categories surveyed.
He didn't rank in the top 16% of top motivators, although this is one area where I think he does OK. Players like to play for him, but is he getting the most out of Harden and Howard and the rest of the team? Granted Howard and Harden have a reputation for being very sensitive types and getting the best out of them is a bit tricky. But to win a championship, the players need to have more of the Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan killer instinct brought out.
He did not rank in the top 26% of coaches who make in-game adjustments. This one is obvious to all Rockets fans. The set pieces just don't seem to be there. Watching James Harden dribble the clock out at the end of games for his standard isolation tears Rockets fans' hearts out. Hopefully, Ty Lawson will help with that one this year, though I have my doubts.
He didn't rank in the top 16% of coaches who run the best offenses. Granted the Rockets offense is primarily based on running, but what if we had some set pieces like Gregg Popovich runs in San Antonio. Popovich rightfully placed first in 4 out of 5 categories and second in the 5th, and earned that job as team USA head coach. The Spurs schooled the Rockets with their cutting and passing in the last preseason game! If the Rockets just had a little of that ball and player movement they would be so much more dynamic.
He didn't rank in the top 30% of coaches with the best defensive scheme. Remember a couple of years ago when the Rockets were pushing hard to get Lionel Hollins to be an assistant coach to work on the defense? Well, we still haven't filled the void left when Hollins landed the Nets job. Howard made the list as the 5th best interior defender, but if the preseason and the last couple of years are any indicator, the Rockets will struggle again on the defensive side of the ball. They did better against the 3 point shot last year (teams actually shot the worst percentage in the league from deep against the Rockets), but without Howard the middle is soft.
McHale has done a great job dealing with all of the injured players and finding ways to play small ball when the bigs are hurt. And, while his relationship with all of the players seem stellar, that isn't what wins the big, tight games. If McHale can't get more effective set plays as part of the offense, if he can't tighten up the turnovers, if he can't create a more robust and even feared defense, winning the West is a long shot, not to mention the title.