Lawrence Frank Has Lost Whatever “Magic” He Had

Posted on: November 3rd, 2009 by Sebastian Pruiti Comments

Going into this season, Lawrence Frank's record record as a coach was 225-225.  Exactly .500.  After last night's loss, Lawrence Frank is now 4 games under .500 for his coaching career.  This season's start has taken him from a winning coach to a losing coach, and whatever "grace period" his magical start to his coaching career bought him is now fading away.  A lot of Lawrence Frank supporters (are there even any of those anymore) point to that 14-0 start as an example for what type of coach he is.  Frank's trip below .500 proves that this might not be the case.  This being said, I am not delusional.  I wasn't expecting the Nets to be 4-0 right now, but with what is going on right now (we scored 7 points in a quarter against the Bobcats) you need to look at the coach for an explanation.  When you do that, you find that Lawrence Frank is responsible for a whole lot of head-scratching moves in this short season:

Rotations

I don't know if it is just me, but these rotations just seem off.  I know the Nets are young, and they have been hit with a bunch of injuries, but even still.  When you have a young team (and the Nets are indeed young, they have the youngest starting lineup in the NBA), it is the coaches job to put his team in positions that make being successful easier.  It is like Lawrence Frank is trying to do the exact opposite.

Some examples after the jump:

Minnesota's Buzzer Beater - With the game tied, the Nets would need to secure an defensive rebound to ensure that an overtime period will be played.  He has to have known that, because it is very common for teams trying to force overtime to shoot with 2 or 3 seconds left so that there is time for a putback in case of a miss.  So what does he do?  He takes out Yi (our PF and second best rebounder - as sad as it sounds) and inserts a rookie wing playing in his very first game.  As one would expect, the ball bounces right over Terrence Williams head and the rebound bounces to Damien Wilkins who hits a buzzer beater.  Would the same thing have happened if Yi was in there?  Maybe.  If it did, Frank would have put his team in the position to win and you chalk it up as unlucky.  The fact that he made a move and it backfired, that is just poor coaching.

DeShawn's Coast To Coast Drive - Going into the half, the Nets were down 9 points, and with 9 seconds left, Eduardo Najera was at the foul line.  For some unknown reason, Lawrence Frank takes out Courtney Lee and substitutes him with Terrence Williams.  What happens?  DeShawn Stevenson, who was being covered by Courtney and was now being covered by Williams goes coast to coast for a buzzer beating layup.  The lead reaches double digits; momentum gone, game over.  Is Terrence to blame for giving up a coast to coast layup?  Yes.  Like I said earlier though, a coach needs to put his players in a position to win.  There is no benefit to take Courtney Lee out and put in Terrence Williams.  There is 9 seconds left.  Again another move made by Lawrence Frank that backfired.  The thing about this (and the one mentioned earlier) move is that you don't think "It could be Lawrence Frank's fault."  There is no room for interpretation here.  These are two moves that are made and then the next play, it explodes in his face.

The Bobby Simmons Experiment - Four games in and this is a failure.  I mean I could have told you that this was going to be a failure after watching this in the preseason, but Lawrence Frank really thinks he got something here.  It is one thing putting Bobby Simmons in because he is a vet and that he has a large contract.  While I don't really agree with it, I can understand it.  But to go out of your way to find a position that Bobby Simmons is less effective at (and when it comes to Bobby Simmons there isn't a whole lot of effectiveness to begin with) and then stubbornly play him there, that is just absurd.  Bobby Simmons has played the 4 almost exclusively and lets look at his numbers.  So far this season he has a PER of 1.3.  His true shooting % is 34%.  His eFG is 20%.  With all of this being said, for some reason he has a Usage Percentage (Usage percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.) of 22%, the highest of his career (for perspective Brook's UP was 20% last year).  He played 24 minutes against the Bobcats last night while Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone were healthy DNPs (In the postgame interview, Lawrence Frank said "I like what Bobby brought us this game"  -  really?  Popcorn Machine shows Bobby Simmons was on the court for most of that 24-0 run).  Granted those aren't attractive options, but you have to believe that they will put up better numbers than Bobby Simmons has at the 4.  Shoot, I think I can, and I am 5'10" 200 lbs.

Playcalling

What sets are we running? If you read this blog regularly, you know I am not a huge fan of Lawrence Frank when it comes to playcalling.  He has never had a system, choosing to to change the offense from year to year or whenever he pleases.  Last year it was the dribble-drive that included a lot of ISO sets for Vince.  This year?  Vince is gone, but the ISO sets remain.  The one possession that remains in my mind is from the Washington game when Rafer was bringing it up and CDR was on the baseline with screens waiting to be set for him.  There was a double on one side and a single on the other.  This was a go-to play for Vince Carter last year, and it worked, because VC was great catching and shooting off screens.  The play didn't work with CDR running off the screen.  CDR isn't a catch and shoot player.  He is much better off the dribble.  Again.  Putting players in a position to succeed.  Lawrence Frank isn't doing it.

What Is Going On During Timeouts? The players and Lawrence Frank must just stare at each other during timeouts, because they are never successful coming out of timeouts.  I mean I see him go out with the clipboard and a marker.  Do they play Sudoku?  Hangman?  Lawrence Frank clearly doesn't use it for basketball-related purposes.  Timeouts are the chess-games of coaching in my opinion.  If you are a good coach, you can call a time-out, draw up a quick hitter and get a basket.  That's why coaches take time-outs when the other team is on a run.  As a coach, you calm you team down, and draw up a play you know is going to work.  They score, get the momentum going back in their direction, and just like that run over.  During the Bobcats game, the Nets called 7 timeouts (4 of which came during that 24-0 run), they scored a grand total of 0 points coming out of those timeouts.  Here they are in ESPN's play by play.

  1. New Jersey full timeout
    5:09 Yi Jianlian lane violation 10-4
  2. New Jersey full timeout
    2:47 35-24 Boris Diaw makes free throw 1 of 2
    2:47 35-25 Boris Diaw makes free throw 2 of 2
    2:32 Brook Lopez 3 second 35-25
  3. New Jersey 20 Sec. timeout
    0:28 Courtney Lee bad pass (Tyson Chandler steals) 39-29
  4. New Jersey 20 Sec. timeout
    6:13 Bobby Simmons enters the game for Yi Jianlian 48-41
    6:01 48-41 Raja Bell offensive foul (Chris Douglas-Roberts draws the foul)
    6:01 48-41 Raja Bell turnover
    5:46 Brook Lopez bad pass (Boris Diaw steals) 48-41
  5. New Jersey full timeout
    1:40 48-49 Tyson Chandler enters the game for Gerald Wallace
    1:40 48-49 Stephen Graham enters the game for Boris Diaw
    1:40 Courtney Lee enters the game for Bobby Simmons 48-49
    1:40 48-49 D.J. Augustin misses free throw 1 of 2
    1:40 48-49 Charlotte offensive rebound
    1:40 48-49 Raymond Felton enters the game for Vladimir Radmanovic
    1:40 48-50 D.J. Augustin makes free throw 2 of 2
    1:29 Sean Williams offensive foul (Tyson Chandler draws the foul) 48-50
  6. New Jersey full timeout
    10:57 Bobby Simmons enters the game for Terrence Williams 48-57
    10:38 Rafer Alston misses 26-foot three point jumper 48-57
  7. New Jersey full timeout
    9:07 48-63 Raja Bell enters the game for Raymond Felton
    8:55 Brook Lopez bad pass (D.J. Augustin steals) 48-63.

Yup, on the possession immediately following a Nets timeout, the Nets had 6 turnovers and a 26-foot three pointer.  If that doesn't personify lack on in game execution and playcalling, I don't know what does.

Lack Of A Go To Play - When a team is having a run going against them they do one of two things, call a timeout (we already acknowledged that this doesn't work for the Nets) or run a go-to play.  In every game the Nets have played so far this year, teams just go on these crazy runs against the Nets, changing the tide against the Nets completely.  It happened in Minnesota, as they went on a 12-0 run to take the lead.  Orlando went on three separate runs in the third quarter (7 points/6 points/6 points).  Washington went on an 11-3 run in the second quarter effectively putting the game away.  Of course, last night featured a 24-0 run by the Bobcats.  During any of those runs Lawrence Frank should have been able to call a play, a play that would get us a basket, or a good shot even.  Could this be blamed on lack of execution?  Sure.  But when you have a team full of guys in the NBA, you should be able to come up with a play or two that puts them in a position to get a good look.  I mean you have been coaching Brook Lopez for two years now, you can't come up with anything to get the ball to him in the post and just let him work?

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So what was the point of this?   I don't know really.  Maybe it was just to vent, maybe it was just to tell you guys don't expect things to change, I am not sure.   Lawrence Frank is what he is, and even during his great start he has been doing stuff like this.  The thing is, now he isn't winning.  As silly as it sounds, now that Lawrence Frank is under 500, he or his supporters can't point at that 14-0 start anymore.  That is officially gone now.