Roy Hibbert, going from the Pacers, is getting a clear upgrade in coaching – at least if you judge by the coaches’ playing ability.
Lakers coach Byron Scott won a few championships while starting for the Lakers in the 1980s. Pacers coach Frank Vogel peaked at Division III or Kentucky’s junior-varsity team, whichever you consider more prestigious.
That matters to Hibbert.
I wanted to play for a coach who actually played in the league if I had my own choice. Not to say that Frank (Vogel) wasn’t great. I had some real good times with Frank and we played well. But I told my agent that I possibly wanted to play for a coach that played in the league.
Me: Why is that important to you?
RH: Just playing for BShaw (Brian Shaw, the Pacers’ former associate head coach under Vogel), he went through the things that a player has gone through. He had a lot of real good insight to help myself, my game, with other guys on the court. Because he went through those things. And when you had two sets of four games in five nights, he was real with us. He would say, if I’m tired, you’re tired. It’s not a huge thing, but I’m really lucky to be in this position.
This doesn’t seem to be about Hibbert resenting Vogel and Larry Bird for trying push out Hibbert. In the same interview, Hibbert said, “I could never say a bad thing about Larry.”
So, we’ll take Hibbert’s words at face value.
I agree with him to a point. Playing in the NBA is an advantage for NBA coaches, many of whom have relied on their pro experience to coach better.
But Hibbert might be in for a rude awakening about how minor that advantage can be.
Playing experience is not a magic bullet for coaching.
Coaching takes a lot more than that, and Vogel has proven himself a solid NBA head coach. He surely has flaws, and his lack of pro experience might contribute to them. But Scott seems to be a much worse coach, maybe even willingly.
Vogel repeatedly puts his players in position to succeed. Hibbert benefited from that, anchoring a defense and expanding his offensive game.
Scott too often puts his players in position to fail. Veterans see through that, even if Scott seems more relatable at first.
I’d be very curious how Hibbert feels about this a year from now.