Last year Mark Jackson was coming to the head coach’s chair straight out of a broadcast booth where he was supposed to be opinionated and brash. He was in front of a new team ownership group that was brimming with confidence. Jackson played right into all of it and was talking playoffs for the Warriors.
Fast forward a year, where Jackson is coaching what should be a better Warriors team. But you are not hearing any bold predictions from Jackson this time around.
No, he has learned the art of the cliché and sounded like a lot of other coaches during his media availability before training camp Wednesday. Here are some highlight quotes, via Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com.
Pressure is my mindset. I don’t care who I’m coaching, the pressure is always going to be to win. Certainly we have a better basketball team. I don’t run from it; I embrace it.”
Are they going to be a half-court team as they are supposed to start David Lee and Andrew Bogut?
“I would argue that David Lee is a great runner. I would say we have a great rebounder in (Andrew) Bogut and four guys who can run above average for their position. I would say we’re better to run because we’re a better rebounding team. Each guy rebounds their position well.
“I would say running more and when you have the weapons that we have offensively, the best way to attack a defense is when they’re not set. We’re not going to be a slow-down offensive team.”
Jackson has learned some lessons about the fan base and dealing with expectations off the court. As we move into the season we’ll see what he has learned on the court and if he can take a team with good talent the next step up into the playoffs. It will not be easy in a deep Western conference (they would have to beat out the likes of Minnesota and Dallas to make it) but it’s not out of the question.
Terrence Ross puts preseason in preseason dunk (video)
“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.