Mike Malone has been going beserk in Sacto, trying to instill “culture change”. He’s been calling his players out in the press, and in the last game benched his starters for good in the third quarter, for lack of defensive effort.
I understand that Malone no doubt feels he has the total backing of ownership, but both he and his owner are making a classic rookie mistake. Culture change is never instilled by coaches, it is instilled by players. Teams never start playing defense until they reach a critical mass of good defensive players. Trying to play good defense without the necessary personnel is a waste of time and resources, and players realize that fast.
Paul Pierce is a great defender, who literally ripped Kobe Bryant’s heart from his chest in the Finals. But Pierce and the Celtics never played hard on defense until the arrival of Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo. Should Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau be credited with that culture change?
Don Nelson was (incorrectly) labeled as a coach who didn’t give two hoots about defense. How then did the We Believe Warriors rise up to deliver one of the great defensive performances in NBA playoff history? Holding the #1 seeded Mavericks ten points below their scoring average, while running them off the court? Destroying the league MVP?
Yes, the culture change attendant upon assembling a critical mass of great defenders: Andris Biedrins, Stephen Jackson, Baron Davis, Matt Barnes, and Mickael Pietrus.
(And a great game plan.)
Similarly, the culture change on the Warriors was not instilled by Mark Jackson. It was instilled by the acquisitions of Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut. And now Iggy, JON and Toney Douglas. All of those guys brought their defensive desire and defensive abilities with them when they came to the Warriors. Mark Jackson had literally nothing to do with it.
And now the presence of these great defensive players has inspired Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and David Lee to work harder on defense. Why?
Because now it works.
As for the Kings, if Mike Malone continues to throw temper tantrums while trotting out the likes of Greivous Vasquez, John Salmons, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson, he’s going to wear out his welcome fast, while accomplishing exactly nothing.
The problem of course also has a lot to do with Boogie Cousins himself, the Kings “franchise player,” who has to date shown little to no interest in the defensive end. But it’s wrong to make him the focus, at least as the Kings are constructed now. Because unless you surround Boogie with real defensive pieces who actually make playing defense fun and productive, he will have absolutely no incentive to change his habits. And his coach’s fury will only make things worse.
Have you seen how worked up Bogut gets when a teammate misses a rotation? If he were on the Kings, he’d lose his mind.
Kind of like the guy already there.
Would that be culture change?