The Golden State Warriors parted ways with Keith Smart after one year today. Smart led the Warriors to a 36-46 record this past year, a ten win improvement from last year’s nightmare season. Smart was given little time to get ready for the season, as he took over for Don Nelson just days before training camp started. Although he did some good things, it wasn’t good enough for Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber.
Keith Smart will always be known in basketball circles for hitting “the shot” to beat Syracuse in the 1987 NCAA title game.
He was also the reason why Cleveland got the 1st pick and drafted King James. In 2002, Smart took over as the interim coach after John Lucas was fired. He mastered the art of tanking with a 9-31 record from there on out with help from the guy who shot at his own basket to try and get a triple double.
Keith Smart became an assistant with the Warriors the following year, and the rest is history.
I felt Keith Smart did an average job this year. He had some major flaws. He had terrible substitution patterns and rotations. Vlad saw the floor way more than he should have while Reggie Williams was riding the bench. He would also leave Acie Law on the floor for long stretches of the game for no reason. Don Nelson’s so called “defensive coordinator” improved the Warriors 30th ranked defense last year to 27th in defense this year. The Warriors also marginally improved in rebounding from the previous year, going from 27th to 19th this year. Keith Smart is a little better as a defensive coach but he basically ran a worse version of Nelson’s system on offense. If we were still going to be the run-n gun Warriors, we should have just kept Nelson.
But the worst aspect of Keith Smart was what he did to Steph Curry’s growth as a player. Nelson played to Curry’s strengths and brought the best out of him, while Smart had trouble synchronizing Stephs style of play with Monta’s.
To his credit, Smart had a flawed roster that would not have made the playoffs under any other head coach in the league. Sure Biedrins was horrendous this year. David Lee missed 8 games. We didn’t have a serviceable backup point guard. But there’s no excuses. Nate Mcmillan has dealt with injuries the past three years but the Blazers still make the playoffs with guys like Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews. Sure Smart improved our defense marginally, but at the end of the day, he didn’t make that much of a difference to our team.
NBA Unscripted did a special on the Warriors that premiered March 31st on NBA TV, and of course I watched that shit. For those who did not watch, It is similar to The Association series with the Boston Celtics. It was a great documentary, and I applaud Peter Gruber because I’m sure his entertainment ass had something to do with it.
But I was bothered midway through the movie by a segment that featured Smart. David Lee and Monta Ellis were interviewed saying that Keith Smart gives them advice during timeouts, but they said THEY USUALLY DON’T GET WHAT HE IS EVEN SAYING! WTF? After they were interviewed, they did a 25 second clip of Keith Smart saying crazy shit that made no sense. I don’t know about you, but that is not the coach I want for my favorite team.
I love how our new owners and Larry Riley appear to really be committed to winning. They could have settled with Smart, but they want a coach that can get the Warriors to the playoffs next year. This is how I fell about this move by the Warriors…
Check back tomorrow when we will discuss possible replacements for Keith Smart.