Terry Stotts is the early front runner for Coach of the Year in the NBA. Marc Stein of Yahoo! Sports thinks so too. To discuss his early success, Stotts was recently invited to be a guest on the Dan Patrick Show and showed why he is the right man for the job in Portland.
Dan and Terry covered everything in this interview from Stotts’ head coaching interview on Paul Allen’s yacht in London to what Stotts learned from playing under George Karl. Dan asked what Terry thought were the main differences between last year’s team and this year’s team. If you watched the Blazers play last year, you are aware that they had a solid starting five and no depth. Stotts reaffirmed that in his answer and mentioned that they “didn’t have a defensive center or a true back up point guard but we filled all of our needs.” He also accredited the chemistry that seems to have developed fairly quickly with his team to the Trail Blazers’ fast start.
The most interesting part of the interview, to me, was how Terry Stotts answered Dan Patrick’s concerns about the team. Dan mentioned that the team’s defense was lacking, Damian Lillard’s shooting percentage has been low, and that it’s hard to be solely a jump shooting team. Stotts was able to turn the questions around and show support for his team. He mentioned that the “Defense isn’t where it needs to be but we’re making progress.” He also told Patrick that you have to play to your strengths. The Trail Blazers strength is shooting a high percentage of jump shoots. Stotts brought up that the best defensive teams in the NBA take away the paint and the rim. If the Blazers can shoot a high percentage from outside the paint, he believes they have a chance to win every game.
Finally Stotts reflected on his time spent playing for George Karl. He played for Karl in Great Falls, Montana with the CBA affiliated Montana Golden Nuggets from 1980-1983. The best lesson Stotts learned from his time with Coach Karl was that you have to “Let your players play offense. You give them freedom to play offense… and let them do what they do well.”
Sounds like Terry Stotts is taking George Karl’s advice and teaching it to his Blazers team. If things keep going at this current pace, Stotts might have to send Karl a thank you note at the end of the season; one Coach of the Year to another.