Let me preface this by saying that I like Sixers coach Doug Collins more than most. I don't think he's a bad basketball coach by any means. He knows a lot about the game. He has years of experience as a player, head coach, and TV analyst/commentator. There's no question he knows a lot about the game of basketball, and a lot more than any of us.
In fact, there's a number of things to admire about Collins. First is obviously the great history he's had with the Sixers/NBA and playing for the US Men's Olympic Team. Next is his ability to get the most of his players. Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young have developed into good players during his time here. Not only does he get his team to play hard but he also inspires very good defensive play. The numbers speak for themselves:
|Def Rtg Rank||7||3||11|
Off the court, you get the idea he's a good family man as you've seen when he brings his grandchildren to a post-game presser. I don't pretend to know Doug personally, because I don't, but from what I do know I get the sense he can be a nice, intelligent guy.
Maximizing the most out of the talent you have is all you can ask a good coach to do. Coaching is certainly important in the NBA, but it's no substitute for a lack of talent. And that's clearly the biggest problem with this current Sixers active roster: a lack of talent. I don't care if, say, Phil Jackson was coaching this Sixers team right now. I just don't believe that even the best coach would have anything more than a marginal impact on this team. Maybe they would have a few more wins, but that's it. No significant difference.
With that said, it's not fair to fully blame the Sixers poor record this year on Doug. The Sixers have had to deal with some major injuries issues; the most obvious one being Andrew Bynum. Thaddeus Young is also a huge loss right now. Jason Richardson has value when used in the right role. A lot of change took place from last year's roster (Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Lou Williams all gone) and it was only natural to expect the team to take time to adjust.
But beyond these things are other issues. Issues that stem from none other than Doug Collins himself.
One of the biggest problems is Collins' inefficient, turnover wary offense. Everyone knows that turning the ball over isn't ideal. It ends offensive possessions and can lead to easy baskets for the opposing team. That's no reason to completely hamstring an offense though.
The Sixers offense is disgustingly risk-averse. Instead of trying to attempt high-percentage baskets by getting close to the rim, and possibly even drawing fouls (what a concept!), Collins is content with his players settling for long 2s. Currently the Sixers shoot more long 2s than any other team with an average of 24.5 shots from 16-23 feet per game. They have a 33.9 FG% at that range. That's simply not a recipe for success. Those are literally the worst shots you can take in basketball because they're the least efficient shot possible.
That's not the only problem with Doug. It's that he has a part in moves like signing Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown. It's that he refuses to play young talent (see: Nikola Vucevic in the Celtics series last year when Hawes was getting destroyed by Kevin Garnett, or Arnett Moultrie this year). He refuses to at least consider the value of advanced statistics and is stuck in his own old-school approach.
Speaking of the Moultrie issue, I can't believe how underplayed that is! Not only was he their first round pick, but he was touted by the Sixers organization as a guy who was a "top 10 player" on their board, and a guy who they originally thought about picking instead of Moe Harkless. And then he doesn't get any playing time this season? That would be more justifiable if there were better options in front of him, but that's not even the case! Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen haven proven to be a terrible front court. There's no way Moultrie could be worse. In limited minutes recently, he's actually looked like he can do some positive things there. That's a complete coaching failure on Doug.
Despite my harsh criticisms, I don't advocate the immediate firing of Collins. I wouldn't be upset with that move, but I don't see why it should be done at this time. The rest of this season doesn't matter all that much anyway, save for the (possible) return of Bynum. But Doug Collins can absolutely not be the coach of this team next year or years to come.
Simply put, the Sixers have to do two things right in order to hope to contend for a title. That includes 1) acquiring elite talent and a viable surrounding staff and 2) increasing efficiency. These goals are likely tied together. These things can't be accomplished with Collins as the coach.
There's a difference between being a "bad coach" and "not the right coach for this team moving forward".
Doug isn't a bad coach. He's simply not the right guy for this team.
After this season is over, it's time to move on from Doug. The Sixers can't realistically hope to be a championship contender as long as he is here.