the No. 1 reason the Pistons have a fighting chance to end their playoff skid: Van Gundy.
Van Gundy’s first eight teams — three in Miami and five in Orlando — made the playoffs. (His third Heat team won the NBA championship, but after Pat Riley replaced Van Gundy after an 11-10 start.) Is that enough of a track record that we can rely on him getting Detroit there, too?
History suggests probably.
Just nine other coaches have gone 8-for-8 on postseason appearances to start their career: Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Red Auerbach, John Kundla, K.C Jones, Al Cervi, Joe Lapchick, Billy Cunningham and Richie Guerin.
And collectively, their teams reached the playoffs 91% of the time (39-for-43) after their first eight seasons.
Van Gundy just might have proved himself good enough to drag nearly any team into the postseason.
On the other hand, nearly every Van Gundy team has featured an All-NBA first-teamer. Howard was the first-team center in all five of Van Gundy’s years with the Magic, and Shaquille O’Neal held that position — with Dwyane Wade on the second team — during Van Gundy’s final two seasons with the Heat.
Only Van Gundy’s first Miami squad — a talented team that featured Lamar Odom, Eddie Jones and a rookie Wade — lacked an All-NBA player. So hopefully, Van Gundy can call upon that experience this season. For the Pistons to have success, they’ll need to summon similar balance and harmony — unless Drummond is ready to make a huge leap.
And that gets right back to Van Gundy, anyway. His experience with Howard provides reason to believe that Drummond can ascend to great heights with his new coach. After all, Howard never reached the All-NBA first team until Van Gundy arrived in Orlando.
However, Howard already had made the All-NBA third team the year prior. Drummond received a single vote for the honor this past season. Howard was much further along in his development than Drummond when his partnership with Van Gundy began.
Quite possibly, the 2014-15 Pistons will be Van Gundy’s least talented team. If he’s really a perpetual playoff coach, Detroit will put that status to the test.
Still, the Pistons have talent. Not enough to generate swaths of confidence, but enough to have a realistic chance of making the postseason with the right breaks and good coaching. That last ingredient has been missing in Detroit for years.
Tags: Aaron Gray Al Cervi Billy Cunningham Caron Butler Cartier Martin D.J. Augustin Dwight Howard Dwyane Wade Greg Monore Jodie Meeks Joe Lapchick John Kundla K.C Jones Pat Riley Phil Jackson Red Auerbach Richie Guerin Shaquille O'Neal Spencer Dinwiddie Stan Van Gundy