Flip Saunders: critical thinking exercise

Discussion in 'Pistons and NBA' started by Griffin, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. Griffin

    Griffin First Round Draft Pick

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    As we prepare for another playoff run, I want to get a sense of where people stand with Flip Saunders. My theory is that Piston fans like him more than they realize. I think if we could rewind time back to last summer and choose a new coach all over again, I think many of us would pick Flip Saunders again.

    After all, he's about to set a franchise record for wins in a season, and we've seen an improvement to our offense along side a defense that's only slightly less potent (which is arguable, but I think most people *feel* this to be the case). He's managed minutes decently, and he's managed personalities pretty well (very good with Rasheed; only diminished by the Ben Wallace Orlando incident). Also, Flip's shown us he can make solid game-on-the-line decisions, a la Rip's game winners against Boston & Seattle, which came from playcalls that allowed Rip a clean look at the basket (you gotta like that Flip is willing to call somebody other than Billups' number in crunch time, making the Pistons more unpredictable). The Pistons often come out of a halftime break playing smarter than they were when they went in. This tells me the coaching staff is pretty good with game-time adjustments.

    A few more reminders: Flip will ride the hot hand. Flip allows our team to shoot the three, which has turned us into a monster 3-point shooting threat. But he's also unhappy when we get complacent from ThreeLand.

    All in all, Flip's rejuvenated the Pistons, who look fresh and unpredictable heading into the playoffs, which is all we could ask for coming off the Larry Brown Era.


    The word I'm interested in is Trust. Is anybody willing to say they trust Flip Saunders before the playoffs even start? Or can he only earn our trust with a championship finish?

    Because here's the thing: if the Pistons fail to win it all, Flip will get the blame whether it's deserved or not. It's been predetermined from moment one: We win it all = Joe Dumars' brilliance, Lose playoffs = Flip Saunders sucks.

    I want to know if anyone is actually willing to say Flip has done a good job this season, and that he's earned their trust heading into the playoffs, and that a playoff let down might not even be Flip's doing.

    Having said all that, I ask this question:

    If you could do this season over, and you could have any active coach coaching the Pistons, who would you pick? And if it ain't Flip, what makes the other guy better?
  2. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    Like Jesus, Flip is all right with me. I trust him not to get in the way of our players, so they can win or lose pretty much on their own merits.

    Of course, this trust includes the understanding that our players are beatable. But some people (COUGH! COUGH! Homers! COUGH! COUGH!) won't see it that way, and it will be almost impossible for them to give Flip any slack if there's trouble.
  3. dba

    dba All-Star Moderator 1x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    Good question griffin.

    First, I’m not sure I buy your argument that if the Pistons lose, Flip gets the blame but if they win Joe gets the glory (unless you’re only talking about us chickens here in this coop, and we’ll see from how folks respond to your post how likely that is). First, most of the world seems really impressed with the job Flip has done. In every poll I’ve seen he is a leading, if not the leading candidate for coach of the year. The Pistons sure weren’t the odds on favorites coming into the season (certainly picked by the pundits to finish below San Antonio, Miami, Indiana by some, etc.). So if anything Flip can be seen as over-performing now that HCA is wrapped up.

    Second, Joe has gotten his props for putting this team together already. Sure, getting Sheed turned out to be a brilliant move, but what has Joe done for us lately? I’d argue that trading Arroyo would have looked pretty silly if Hunter had turned up lame the next day. And in theory (conspiracy theorists notwithstanding), there wasn’t any guarantee that Delk would fall from the sky so leaving the team with an aging, coming off an injury backup point was very risky. Of course, if Hunter and Delk tear up the playoffs, that potential disaster won’t be remembered by many. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    But your key question is a lot harder for me. Do I trust Flip? Can I trust anyone who looks so much like W.C. Fields? Waiting for the playoffs to end really doesn’t matter to me. If I don’t trust him now, I’ll find a way to put the glory elsewhere even if the ship comes in, so you’re right to force the question now.

    It’s hard to argue with success. 89.5 opponent points per game last year, 89.5 opponent points per game this year, but with a 3.6 PPG increase in own scoring. That’s a better basketball team. The team fell into some traps this season. Remember Sheed going one for eleven (or something close) from the three point line a couple of games? That stopped and I remember the man driving the lane some after that. Now he shoots the three in the flow of the game and hurts the opponent with it. Ben can easily be DPOY again, Rip is more dangerous than ever, and Chauncey is having the best year of his career in this system. I’d argue that Flip hasn’t figured out what to do with Prince, but even that seems to be changing lately. Minutes are consistent and reasonable, and have given the guys a really good sense of when and how much they will play (at least through the top seven). In fact, managing the eight through ten players is the only obvious place I see to beat Flip up. Flip has also seemed more aggressive in the second half of the season in calling timeouts and making adjustments. (And perhaps those weren’t even necessary the first half when they won nearly every game.)

    All right, I’ve procrastinated enough. Good old Flip, who never made it out of the first round, oy. But good old Flip who Joe had enough trust in to hire. By the transitive property of trust, if I trust Joe, and Joe trusts the Flipper, then I’ve got to hang out there with him come what may.
  4. Dlev59

    Dlev59 Bench Warmer Moderator

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    Flip has done a very good job of coaching this season. Let`s not forget, he inherited a team that came within minutes of back -to - back championships. That alone spells pressure.

    He also instantly had the respect of a hungry veteran team that despeartely wanted to prove they could win without LB.

    No doubt Flip was mindful of this Piston team being capable of playing in a way his T`Wolves never could-LOCK-DOWN-DEFENSIVE-MODE, which may be one reason why he waited patiently as the LB drama unfolded last year before he accepted another coaching position.

    My only concern with Flip is he doesn`t seem to be a motivator out on the floor, always calm, never flustered. Not to say that`s a bad thing, however, I like to see a coach get upset when something doesn`t go as he wants it to.

    Seems as if Ben is the coach on the defensive end of the floor. One outburst from Ben and even Chauncey is picking up people full court!

    Hopefully Ben will keep up the pressure on his teammates to play D because something tells me you won`t hear a peep from Flip about the D.

    Coach of the year is probably awaiting Flip in a coiple of months, but at the end of the day- wasn`t the Pistons expected to be where they are now? Reagardless of who is coaching them.
  5. ahb

    ahb Bench Warmer

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    I don't like him, and I doubt that will ever change. I don't trust him, but that could change if the Pistons win a championship (although not necessarily). I still don't think he's that good of a coach, and I'd still rather the Pistons had hired Nate McMillan or Eric Musselman.

    He hasn't done too much harm yet, though, but that's where the problem with asking the question now lies: the regular season does not matter. Congratulations are in order for getting the best record in the league, but that's all for now. Any other judgment will have to be postponed until the playoffs are finished.
  6. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    What would the Pistons record have been this year if we would have made Ben Wallace the player/coach with no playbook whatsoever?

    I would say about 41-41. They would still have made the playoffs.

    I think that Flip's greatest strengths have been that he is open-minded offensively and that he gives the players freedom. They don't have to look toward the bench when they miss a shot.

    Other than his creative offense and "easy to live with" personality, I wouldn't say he's done anything unusually well.

    If LB won a championship with this team, then anybody can.
  7. 16 Mile

    16 Mile Bench Warmer

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    Good: Opened up offense, has the starters playing the way they should

    Bad: Very Carlislesque. passive aggressive, can't believe a word he says. Looks like he sabotaged Darko, and is trying to sabotage Delfino. His love for Evans, borderline unhealthy.

    The really bad: Trying to turn us into a West Coast team. Run and gun. Flip's run with will be short, hopefully later rather than sooner, because at some point, a change will be made in the starting lineup, and once that happens, his West Coast Offense/no Defense will implode.

    Questions: Flip better win, because his style definately fits the regular season, the big question will it fit the post season. Delk is a scorer, but his D sucks. Lindsey is getting older. And Evans is no backup 3. If our starters are dominating, none of that matters, but in a close series, I worry about Prince being forced to play 45+ minutes, jumpers failing to go in, and teams making 10-0 runs against our bench.
  8. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    Please don't write stuff like this. You make it sound like lee180 could have a winning record playing 12 men a game! :laugh:

    This is a great topic Griffin. I'm not gunna blame Flip. This whole year has been a lesson in keeping an even keel for Ol' Sandwich. If we don't win a title, it means that some players did not play as well as they can. That is unless Flip does something terribly gross with subs (playing Delfino or Evans in crunch time) or strategy (doubling Shaq/Duncan/Nowitzki).

    All kudos goes to JD if we win. Saunders will get a feel good footnote for not getting "in the way".

    Historically Detroit has been notoriously tough on coaches. Even Daddy Rich was on the chopping block prior to winning the first of back-to-back titles, and at the end of the Bad Boys' run he was rumoured to be going to TV and had to coach with his replacement in waiting (Ron Rothstein) calling and critizing every game as a play-by-play announcer.

    Get your wins, your ring, your money and keep an updated rolodex of league Execs. The Pistons don't get sentimental about the sideline suits.
  9. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    I get frustrated with flip but until he flat out fails, he's doin' ok in my book. I give him the benefit of the doubt. The win column don't lie. The big annoying thing is listening to him open his mouth. I used to like the sound byte-friendly talks...now I realize its all bs.
  10. FreshPrince22

    FreshPrince22 Bench Warmer

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    I don't trust him yet. Trust is earned. Untill he proves he can get this team to the promise land he hasn't earned anything.

    Would I pick Flip over any current active coach knowing what I know now? No. I'd pick Gregg Popovich easily. He just seems to know how to work with players. He's not afraid to rip into them if they aren't playing up to par, but they still all seem to like him. I think he has a great defensive system (we have better defenders, but the Spurs have tighter rotations), and he seems like a guy that could actually get Rasheed to play in the post. Not to mention he has been there and won the rings already.

    I don't think it's "Win or trash him" necessarily, but if this team flakes out in the playoffs for some reason, then Flip needs to have the finger pointed mostly at him. It's one thing if we get real close and fall short. It's another if we stumble to the ECF or Finals and get dominated by the Heat/Spurs/whoever.

    With the regular season record comes even higher expectations. Flip needs to know that. This is the best team in Pistons history (relative to the strength of their opponent at least). Not winning a title is unacceptable. Certainly when we heard all of this "there is no time to find minutes for _______, we are trying to get HCA" talk.
  11. TheeTFD

    TheeTFD All-Star

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    Flip good...LB sick

    I'm not close enough to the whole NBA to know Flips persona history.
    But unlike playoff hockey, bball is more percentages than man on man domination.
    Even with the lack of relentless Piston D, Flip has dominated.
    But I think we are seeing 5 + guys just bringing it by whatever means necessary. I think CB, BBen and Tay are just to smart and skilled to let us fail. If they fail, I don't think they will, it's not Flips fault.
    BBen is D coordinater, CB is O coordinater. And for the playoffs I see nothing but broom action.
  12. Griffin

    Griffin First Round Draft Pick

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    All right, I'm adding a new wrinkle. Let's get more specific.

    Going into this playoff run, would you rather have:

    A.) Flip or Carlisle (Cola) coaching the Pistons

    B.) Brown or Flip
  13. Dumars4Ever

    Dumars4Ever Bench Warmer

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    A) Definitely Flip.

    B) Larry, if there's no Cleveland/NY/jumping ship drama, i.e. '04. If there is drama, i.e. '05, then I'll take Flip.
  14. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    I'm actually looking forward to seeing the 3-pointer successfully deployed in the playoffs. It really can be a killer.
  15. Warthog

    Warthog Bench Warmer

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    i think saunders has done an excellent job this year and was the right caoch to bring in. we already had carlisle's tedious but effective ways, and brown come in and teach us how to play basketball. with 2 straight years of NBA Finals appearances, this group has proven it knows how to win, and just needed someone to not get in the way.

    most of the credit belongs to the players, but flip has done a great job allowing everyone free reign to realize their potential, and the offensive improvement this year cannot be ignored.

    i truly feel that this year won't come down to matchups, who is the better coach, adjustments, etc. i think the pistons are just plain better than everyone else and are going to be unstoppable, no matter what 5 players they are up against.
  16. OLD SKOOL HQ

    OLD SKOOL HQ All-Star

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    Right on Hogg!!
    I think coaching has nothing to do with who the 'other' coach is putting on the floor. And I'll put our 5 against any other coaches 5 any time, anywhere!! Flip is 12 games better than any coach in the East and when the playoffs begin , you Flip-haters will see the real Beasts of the East unleashed. The 37-5 Pistons will dominate just like the 35-5 Tigers did. (They went 69-63 the rest of the season, but 7-1 in the playoffs , the same .875 winning they started the season with).
  17. lemonpen

    lemonpen First Round Draft Pick

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    I love what Flip has accomplished thusfar, but, he took the gig with only one expectation. It's a no excuse league, and in this case there is only one favorable outcome.
  18. ahb

    ahb Bench Warmer

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    Easily Carlisle.
    Depends on which LB. The Hall-of-Famer, LB, or the senile LB who let Pop coach circles around him in last year's Finals and is as responsible as anyone for the Knicks' situation?

    The first LB is a no-brainer. The second matchup goes to Flip by the narrowest of margins.
  19. TheeTFD

    TheeTFD All-Star

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    I would have to say I trust Flip. We only lost one game to an upper teer team and that was the blowout by the Mavs. Everyone one else we have rocked up on. I'm on the complete sweep through the playoffs senario. Not likely but that's how strong I think we are.
  20. max

    max All-Star

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    Thats kind of a loaded question since we know we got us to the Finals twice with LB only losing by a quarter the 2nd time. Quit a comfort zone the past can be.

    We don't know whats going to happen this time around. May as well ask the question would you rather have this team or Wade all banged again up for the final 2 games of the ECF.

    Its a different season and I do not miss all the drama of last year.

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