The Bobcats fired rookie head coach Mike Dunlap shortly after the season ended, to the confusion and anger of some, and satisfaction of others. A season after the infamous 7-59 record, he had helped the team win 14 more games this year, ...
The Bobcats fired rookie head coach Mike Dunlap shortly after the season ended, to the confusion and anger of some, and satisfaction of others. A season after the infamous 7-59 record, he had helped the team win 14 more games this year, though with the benefit of a much better roster with more confident young players and a longer season. The Bobcats front office said that they were looking for something else to build their youth around.
And so today, we'll look at how well we think Dunlap did this season.
It's tough to grade a coach with only one season under his belt. A complete culture change cannot occur in a single season. Personnel turnover had only begun when Dunlap came in. Only a certain amount of blame can be placed on Dunlap for failing in defense when the team's roster has such limited talent on that side of the court.
And yet, Dunlap did fail, especially on defense. His zone defense scheme had neither the talent nor the discipline to work, helping make for one of the worst defenses in the league. The offense was only slightly better, but still lacked discipline and execution. There was a clear lack of off-ball movement and too much reliance on dribble-drive penetration as a result until Josh McRoberts and Gerald Henderson gave the Bobcats and offensive boon late in the season. However, he did get the team to consistently give their full energy every game, which is something I can appreciate.
The topic of player rotations was also a point of irritation for some fans, especially with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Dunlap often went away from Kidd-Gilchrist due to offensive deficiencies even though his on/off statistics show a net positive when he's on the court.
With all these things considered, I'd have to grade Mike Dunlap's first and last season as Bobcats head coach as a C-. He wasn't dealt good cards, but I thought he did slightly below average for what he had. With another season or two under his belt with a better roster and more experience, who knows how much he could have improved, but clearly the Bobcats felt that his potential improvement could not match the possibility of finding a better coach.
I give Dunlap a C- on the season. As many know I'm well documented on supporting Dunlap this season. I feel like with the situation he was given he didn't do as horrible as others may think. He was given a bad roster where he had literally no direction to go but up. He played the young players minutes (probably should have given MKG some more) and the team definitely improved. In January the team was almost unwatchable. Midway through March the Cats looked like an actual basketball team. So the young players grew and the team became watchable. That's about all we wanted or expected from him, right?
I really like that Mike Dunlap is a basketball guy, through and through. At the time of his hiring so long ago, that was the thing I was most excited about and so it probably makes sense that he's no longer the head coach of the Bobcats. For in the NBA, or really at any level, you do have to be more than just a "basketball guy." Everyone at the NBA level is a basketball guy, so you have to be able to relate to your players, work with your players and get them to buy in to what you're trying to do, among other things.
But it appears as if that failure to connect was his ultimate downfall. The pundits (pundits being everyone on the internet who LOVES cracking wise about the Bobcats, so...everyone on the internet) scream the what-did-you-expect-of-him line, and with good reason. The Bobcats were so bad the season before that almost any uptick in anything would have been an improvement. It was nice to see Charlotte get more wins, because hey, wins are fun. And Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens, and Bismack Biyombo all improved but those players deserve credit for making strides, it wasn't just Dunlap. The ineffectiveness of the zone defense seemed a fireable offense, but only when the Bobcats were runn