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In Retrospect, Why the Mike Dunlap Hiring and Firing Makes Sense

I've probably spent way too much time thinking about ex-Bobcats head coach Micheal Dunlap recently. I hated the thought of the Bobcats lacking the patience to see this hiring through, adding to the air of instability, especially with the obvious lack of talent on the roster. Sure, he had an NBA quality back court at his disposal, but I dare you to find a worse starting frontcourt in NBA history than Mullens, Biyombo, Haywood, Warrick, Diop, Thomas, Adrien. We even lost Mullens for long stretches! What did you expect?!

But now it's started to dawn on me why they hired him and why they inevitably had to fire him. The Bobcats knew what they had and what they did not (the aforementioned NBA backcourt and YMCA frontcourt), and hired a coach who could accentuate their strengths. A quick Google search of "Dunlap offensive system" will lead you to realize two things. His "crowning achievement", if you will, is his Shell Drill on Steroids, which is more about dribble penetration and passing, which we had plenty of players who could do such a thing in Kemba, Sessions, Henderson, and MKG. He was also well known for his uptempo systems, which the Bobcats have been trying to instill since the very beginning of the Paul Silas days. In a few words, he was a great coach for the play and development of our back court players.

And then the inevitable problem I was talking about. He had nothing to add to the development of the frontcourt. Tyrus Thomas' flameout was completed under his watch. Bismack Biyombo didn't so much regress as to not make a whole lot of improvements at all. Byron Mullens seemed to remain more or less the same awful jacking overall minus he has always been. He may have inherited the worst frontcourt in the NBA, but he sure as hell didn't seem to do much to make it better. In fact, his zone defense principles might have severed to hinder their defensive development, and crucial crux necessary for both Biyombo and Mullens to become successful NBA players. As the front office moved into the future, coupled with negative player reviews, the decision was obvious: they had to fire him. For the Bobcats to ever compete, they need a good frontcourt. And in Steve Clifford, they have a proven NBA assistant who knows how to teach big men, along with the obvious Patrick Ewing.

In retrospect, all these things become obvious. MKG, Taylor, and Henderson all continued to elevate their games, while Ramon Sessions got to play in a system that fit his play style like a glove. For all the overblown hyperbole about how bad a coach he was, he made definite inroads with the backcourt and improving their transition game (one of the top in the league) that will continue to show dividends. That make have come with the sacrifice of a year of Biyombo's development, and the loss of Mullens as a prospect, but with a great prospect in Zeller on board, and smart, tutoring vets like Jefferson and McBob in tow, the frontcourt's future is looking a lot brighter.

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