Word’s just in that Byron Scott will be awarded Coach of the Year prior to tomorrow’s tipoff. Huge congratulations are in order- this is a man who suffered through an 18-64 inaugural season with his new team, and was forced to move to an entirely new city for two years. This was a coach that saw his top 4 players miss a combined 126 games just a year ago. This was a man who witnessed his coaching credentials viciously attacked by Jason Kidd and the media, and who was called “a sucker in my book” by a player who has played basketball one entire standard deviation below league average.
Yes, he obtained the services of a short little kid from North Carolina. Yes, he has at his disposal one of the greatest three point threats this league has ever seen. But that’s as far as you can take it. Byron Scott saw in a struggling 23 year old what few others recognized. He stuck with him as others tossed money around at the Boozers, and O’Neals of the world. Fast forward 4 years, and the Hornets have one of the most fiscally sound investments in the league. They’ve built up loyalty internally to the point where West leaving is simply unimaginable. Oh, did I mention he’s now an All-Star?
Of course CP sets up DX like no other. But would West even be around right now if it weren’t for Scott? Where would his game be if Scott hadn’t gotten him to work on a mid-range jumper? David West’s turnover rate has halved since he came into the league. Chris Paul isn’t using the Force to keep the ball in West’s hands. Byron Scott has taught West where to be on the floor, when to force his way to the hoop, when to fall away, when to put it on the floor, when to reset.
Yes, Scott obtained the services of the league’s number 1 offensive rebounder. It’s very easy for analysts to write off Chandler’s enhanced offense as Paul’s doing entirely. But go look up the numbers. In two seasons with New Orleans, Chandler has been assisted on approximately 55% of his field goals. While in Chicago, he was assisted on 51% of his field goals. That’s a difference, sure, but it’s not “whoa, Chandler gets SO many more easy buckets with the Hornets.” The real difference has been Chandler knowing where to be on the floor at any time. Off the high screen? He’s rolling to the hoop, behind the defender that’s supposed to pick him up. After a long rebound? He runs the weak side of the floor towards the rim. Byron Scott understood the value of Chandler’s athleticism as soon as he came over. More importantly, he was the first to realize that his athleticism could be used not only defensively but also on offense. Tyson’s averaging more than double the FGA in NO as he was in Chicago. Paul has the vision, but if TC isn’t in scoring position, what’s the point?
And this is to say nothing of Chris Paul himself. Most of us speak as if he’s in some kind of vacuum, as though CP is what he is because of insane natural talent and nothing else. It’s wise to take a step back and realize that the guy is 23 years old. It’s wise to step back and realize that many of the great PG’s in history took a few years to reach their peaks and hang around that level of play (about 22 PER for the Stocktons, Isiahs, and Kidds). It makes you appreciate the fact that Paul started his career with a 22.1 PER, and just registered the highest PER for a PG ever, at 28.3. And it also makes it undeniably clear that Byron Scott has set up the perfect system around Paul for him to succeed. That can’t be emphasized enough.
I’m sure our coach will continue to be called out by the ignorant Jerry Stackhouses of the world. But we as Hornets’ fans understand what he’s brought to this team, to its players, and to the city. Thank you, Byron Scott, for all you’ve done these last 4 years.
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