Nate McMillan has taken center stage as the first option to replace Lawrence Frank as the head coach of the Detroit Pistons. Frank was fired last week, concluding Detroit’s 29-53 record. McMillan coached the Portland Trail Blazers for 7 seasons with a 266-269 record. As you know, he’s been out of coaching work since he was fired partway through last season due to the team’s stagnation and, unofficially, player mutiny led by Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford.
McMillan has historically been a fan of the short rotation, playing a few players for big minutes in a slow, methodical offensive system. This is the offense that saw LaMarcus Aldridge backing down players in the low post and finishing at the rim, compared to Stotts’ offense, which has LaMarcus taking jumpers in the high post off the pick and pop. McMillan and Detroit make an interesting pairing because of this. The Pistons have two talented, young, big men in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Both can hammer in the paint and have the youthful legs to play extended minutes.
Let’s look at Drummond, specifically, and see why the Pistons may be salivating at the prospect of coach Mac. McMillan helped LaMarcus Aldridge achieve league wide recognition by coupling him with Andre Miller on the pick and roll. This pairing was so successful that LA’s offensive production spiked and he found himself at the freethrow line more often as teams began to recognize him as a threat. Drummond has the same kind of potential for success if the offense is run to his advantage. This is where it is important for the Pistons to act quickly and decide which player they will need to run McMillan’s system (if hired).
Which brings me to Detroit’s most pressing dilemma; what to do about Jose Calderon. Jose is perennially underrated, but will likely draw some big offers in free agency this summer. The Pistons have good reason to be concerned, as he has not committed to Detroit. Bringing in Nate McMillan will do one of two things. It will either help convince Calderon to stay and play for a more competent coach or, more likely, it will give the organization a head start on what kind of point guard to look for in Calderon’s absence. I would not be at all surprised to see the Pistons welcome McMillan aboard in the coming week to give their team some direction.
I just want Nate to find success. He was a valuable coach for the Blazers and I will always look back fondly on the era of Roy, Aldridge, and Oden (some assembly required). There was buzz earlier this season when the Lakers fired Mike Brown, that Nate could coach in Los Angeles. Granted, all sorts of names were thrown into the ring, but his was there among media speculation nonetheless. Although that would have been a sight to see, I think Detroit will be a much better fit for him (Dwight’s pick and roll is a work in progress). I wish him the best and hope to see him gainfully employed once again in short order.