I love Byron Scott and am happy to have him as the coach of my favorite team. However, when I looked at his career coaching record I saw that it was below .500. Even with an impressive year this season and 2 trips to the finals on his resume, his winning percentage is .487. How could that be….? Let’s take a look at his less than spectacular seasons.
This team had 19 different players, with 12 of them ending up starting at some point.
Players in their final season: Sherman Douglas, Jim McIlvaine, Jamie Feick, Jamel Thomas. Some were getting older, some just were never that good. Either way, 4 players on that roster never played in the NBA again.
For the same reasons (either declining or non-existent skill), 7 other players enjoyed 4 years or less in the association after that season. They are: Johnny Newman (1), Lucious Harris (4), Kendall Gill (4), Evan Eschmeyer (2), Doug Overton (2), Vladimir Stepania (3), Mark Strickland (2).
15 players were either rookies or in their last years in the league. The other 4 were Stephon Marbury, Aaron Williams, Keith Van Horn, and Kevin Ollie. (I didn’t know Ollie was still in the league until I looked it up.)
The Nets centers that season were Feick, McIlvaine, Samake, Stepania, and Eschmeyer. I had to laugh out loud at that one.
The next season they looked completely different. The Nets would make 2 straight finals appearances before Scott was fired in 2004.
This Nets team was streaky. Fueled by two 4-game winning streaks (and a 4-game losing streak), they started out 20-14. They went on to lose 5 in a row and Scott was fired after a 22-20 record. Some say Jason Kidd contributed to it, while he denies it. That’s not the point though. The point is that he was streaky with a streaky Nets team and was fired. The Nets won 13 in a row at the beginning of Lawrence Frank’s tenure, but finished 12-15. The next season the Hornets snatched Byron up, but somehow, he inherited an even worse team than the Nets team 3 years earlier.
22 different players, with 19 different starters.
Baron Davis was on his way out, and Lee Nailon ended up leading the team in scoring. Other notables included Dan Dickau, Chris Andersen, Bostjan Nachbar, Casey Jacobsen, Jackson Vroman, Junior Harrington, Matt Freije, Maceij Lampe, Alex Garcia, Corsley Edwards, and Lonny Baxter. These weren’t guys that barely saw the floor either. Of the 410 starts in a year, 91 came from these players.
J.R. Smith was a rookie, and hasn’t started as many games in his career since that season. Dan Dickau started 46 games that season, and has started 11 since.
As was the case in New Jersey, there were also players at the end of their careers. Rodney Rogers and George Lynch both finished their careers after that season.
The players that were good suffered through injuries. Jamaal Magloire played in just 23 games, and David Wesley played in just 26. P.J. Brown was the only consistent player on the team, and at 35 years old, was starting to decline.
As was the case in New Jersey, the team next year looked quite different. Chris Paul was introduced, and David West emerged as a dependable player. Even with Brown playing out of position at Center, the team finished at 38-44, a 20 win improvement.
Only a 1-game improvement the next season might be cause for concern, but the really concern was the injuries the team faced. Here are the regular starters and their games missed: Chris Paul (18), Peja Stojakovic (69), Desmond Mason (7), David West (30), and Tyson Chandler (9). Devin Brown was without a team going into the season and ended up starting 49 games. 6<sup>th</sup> man Bobby Jackson missed 26 games. With a healthy roster, one would have to think the team would have won a few more games. This leads us to this season. 56-26 and Coach of the Year. Scott’s career record is still below .500 but that can be attributed to having 2 of 7 and a half seasons coaching rebuilding teams. He has brought his team to the NBA finals twice already, and is poised to make another run this year.