NBA Week 3 Thoughts: Jacque Vaughn and Teams Who Could Use An Upgrade at Center

Jacque Vaughn

The NBA is three weeks into its season, and teams have or are already considering making coaching/roster moves. I will provide insights into Jacque Vaughn being named the Nets’ permanent head coach and examine teams who could trade for a center.

Jacque Vaughn Is The Right Choice For Brooklyn

I like the Nets’ decision to remove the interim tag on head coach Jacque Vaughn, and I am not sure what the love affair with Ime Udoka is all about. Vaughn is a proven coach and leader who has spent his entire adulthood in the NBA. He was always considered a coach on the floor and the consummate teammate when he played.

So, it made sense that Vaughn would get into the coaching profession once his playing days ended. Vaughn started his coaching career with the Spurs as an assistant under Gregg Popovich, whom he played three seasons for before retiring.

It only took him two seasons to land a head coach with the Magic. While his coaching record may indicate otherwise, I believe that Vaughn did a pretty good job with the talent he had, which wasn’t much. In his first season with the Magic, Vaughn had eight rookies or first-year players on the roster.

Jacque Vaughn posted a 58-158 record in his two-plus seasons with Orlando though he should get credit for the development of Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Victor Oladipo. All three players are still solid contributors for their teams. Vucevic and Oladipo are multiple-time all-stars.

But back to the here and now. Jacque Vaughn has been with the Nets organization since 2016 and has helped the team rebuild following the completion of the 2015-16 campaign.

So, Vaughn has relationships and the respect of all players, with Joe Harris being with Brooklyn as long as he has. I also like the improvement of the Nets defensively over the first five games since Vaughn replaced Steve Nash.

Brooklyn has made the playoffs in each of the last four years with Jacque Vaughn on the bench. Vaughn also took over as interim coach after Kenny Atkinson was fired in 2019-20, and the team responded by going 7-3 and making the playoffs with a 35-37 record. With the Nets 3-2 under Vaughn this season, he is 10-5 as head coach of the team.

Which Teams Need A Center?

While the NBA is now a game that revolves around the point guard, center is still a critical position despite it being severely devoid of stars throughout the league. Joel Embiid, Deandre Ayton, Chet Holmgren, Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, Rudy Gobert, and Anthony Davis are the top five-men though there are several other quality bigs.

The point is that teams need at least a serviceable big man to protect the rim and do the little like screening, rebounding, and sometimes have the offense run through them.

I bring this up because there have been rumors swirling around that the Pacers may be interested in moving Myles Turner, and the Spurs’ had been willing to move Jakob Poeltl before putting that on hold following the team’s strong start to the season.

So, who needs a solid veteran five-man who is a solid rebounder that can put up 11-15 points a game? The Lakers, Warriors, and Nets immediately come to mind, as well as perhaps the Mavericks.

The Lakers have Davis at center though he prefers to play the five. The Lakers don’t have anyone behind him, as free-agent signee Thomas Bryant has yet to play this year due to a thumb injury and will be out several more weeks. Meanwhile, Damian Jones can score and rebound but averages less than 10 minutes of action as he is not a strong defender.

The Nets have Nic Claxton, an athletic defender who is fantastic on the boards and a strong rim-protector though his offensive game is limited to around the rim. Day’Ron Sharpe is a big body and solid rebounder, but he does not bring enough offensively to be more than a deep role player. The Nets definitely need to add a big man.

I like Kevon Looney for the Warriors. He is better suited to be the first big off the bench rather than starting. Looney is a terrific rebounder and rim-protector, though he has not developed offensively. Looney has been playing 23.4 minutes a game, the most of his career.

Looney’s backup James Wiseman is still learning the game, while veteran JaMychal Green can also play some small ball center, as can Jonathan Kuminga. At the moment, the Dubs are probably the least likely to make a deal because they probably don’t want to part with Wiseman or Kuminga, at least not yet.

Dallas could benefit from adding Turner or Poeltl. Dwight Powell is serviceable, but he plays the minutes of a backup. Christian Wood can play the five; however, he is best suited for four. The Mavs also have JaVale McGee and Maxi Kleber, who can give them minutes in the middle.

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