In an interview with Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan expressed confidence in his often-criticized coach Jacque Vaughn.
He’s our coach. That’s how I see him … I believe in him.
After limping to the NBA’s worst record (20-62) last year, the Magic have struggled to the second worst record (10-25) this season. While the Magic didn’t make many moves to improve the team over the off-season, it’s fair to expect more progress from the second-year coach. The Magic have been patient with Vaughn, but it’s time to start wondering whether that patience is hurting the long-term development of the team. Vaughn isn’t evaluated on wins and losses right now, but his much more important player development track-record is concerning.
Last season, Hennigan unearthed three gems when he traded for the under-utilized Tobias Harris, Nickola Vucevic, and Maurice Harkless. All three made significant contributions in their first year on the team, but haven’t improved this season. By examining Wins Produced per 48 minutes (WP48), it becomes clear that their efficiency and value have stagnated. Including Andrew Nicholson and Doron Lamb, none of the Magic’s five returning prospects is on pace to produce more WP48. While last season was a pleasant surprise, this year can only be viewed as a mild disappointment.
One possible explanation for the lack of development is Vaughn’s lack of a consistent rotation. Both Harkless and Nicholson, in particular, have struggled with the illogical minutes distribution. They have lost playing time to inefficient veterans that have no place in the Magic’s present or future.The one Orlando Magic that has drastically improved under Vaughn’s watch is Arron Afflalo. After struggling in his first year with the Magic, producing -.5 wins, Afflalo has already produce 3.6 wins this year. While those numbers are encouraging, one player isn’t enough to justify the struggles of the rest of the roster.
But despite his struggles, Vaughn still has Hennigan’s support. “We’re very proud of the job that Jacque has done,” the GM said. “His leadership has set the foundation. He understands the process. He isn’t in a rush to skip steps. He’s a great teacher. He has done a noteworthy job of being unselfish, realizing we’re building for the long haul.” That’s a lot of praise for a coach with the worst winning percentage in the NBA over the last two years.
And there’s the silver lining. For right now Vaughn’s ineptitude actually helps the Magic. Securing a high lottery pick in one of the best drafts in years is more valuable than contending this season. Hopefully that prospect will have a more competent to coach to aid in his development.
What do you think? Should the Magic keep Jacque Vaughn? Let us know in the comments section below.