New Coach, New Mentality, Same Expectations
After Sam Presti and the Thunder organization hired Coach Billy Donovan on Thursday, everyones expectation is the same. Donovan is expected to win a championship and have success almost immediately. After being in Florida for almost two decades and winning two championships, he has experience being successful.
Kevin Durant and Nick Collison, the only two players that are still a part of this franchise since they moved to Oklahoma City were watching Friday afternoon as Coach Donovan introduced himself. He is Oklahoma City’s third coach since the team moved to Oklahoma City 7 years ago and with many people disappointed about Scott Brooks’ termination as coach, the heat is on for Billy to do nothing less than win a championship or at least make a run towards the NBA finals his first year as coach. Many have said, Billy Donovan will be the most hated, or the most loved man in Oklahoma City by this time next year.
I love the passion this coach seems to have, he has a fiery personality that during games reminds me of Russell Westbrook. It takes a special and strong minded coach to be able to earn full respect from Russell and there are only a few coaches that can and I strongly believe this coach can do just that. I like his defensive philosophy, more than I liked Scott’s. Billy believes in tough, intense man defense, which is what he displayed at the University of Florida, so thats what I expect from him here. He believes that defense should be drilled on a regular basis and there should be no time taken off under any circumstance. Offensively he believes in the uptempo type of play, ball movement, playing fast and not stopping the ball on offense. This is exactly how this team needs to play and this is the most comfortable way for OKC’s back court to play. This new hire may be good for the Thunder for future deals as well. Coming from college, Billy Donovan had the most former players, currently active in the NBA, most notable,Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Chandler Parsons, Mike Miller and Nick Calathes. All of these players are considered stars or great contributors to their team. In the event that Sam Presti looks for any additions to this team, I’d like to think one of these guys would be a target provided they are available.
As soon as Coach Donovan found out the Thunder organization was interested in him as coach, he consulted his family and got their support before there was any kind of offer man , which was huge for him and his decision. He said that community involvement was also one of the biggest factors in his decision.
“After 19 years, I’m leaving my heart and soul in Gainesville, Florida. My family was a huge part of the community, so this isn’t easy for them I'm sure.”
He plans on getting to know his new team and organization better after he and his family return from Florida, this weekend, presumably moving some of their belongings to Oklahoma City.
"I'm excited, there is a level of the unknown sure but right now I'm excited about impacting a lot of people in a very positive way. We have to take care of today, there's a process to go through.”
People were asking and there were rumors spreading across the sports world assuming Westbrook wasn’t content with the hiring, because he is a key player for the team and wasn’t at the press conference. Well, he is in Las Vegas with his younger brother to celebrate his twenty-fourth birthday, during this busy weekend in the desert.
With this hiring, I was wondering if he was really serious about this move or if he was just doing it for the image and publicity due to his wishy-washiness in previous years involving the NBA after he was named Head Coach for the Orlando Magic eight years ago, only to change his mind a few days into the job when he asked out of his contract. This speculation of mine quickly changed after his press conference Friday afternoon when he said that he was in a different place mentally, coming off of two National Championships at Florida.
I like this coach so far, lets see where he takes our Thunder squad.