Image of Former Coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic speaks to J.J. Redick during their game against the Miami Heat at Amway Arena on October 12, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.

Redick Hosts His Former Coach On Podcast

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LOS ANGELES – J.J. Redick brought his former head coach in Orlando and current Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy on his podcast for “The Vertical.”

Redick has talked about the kind of influence Van Gundy had on him during their five years together in Orlando, so he made sense as a guest on the podcast. The two discussed the difficulties of measuring defensive production in today’s NBA, the importance of chemistry and discipline when constructing rosters, accountability starting from the top, how much culture matters and the trends of today’s NBA among a variety of topics.

On Defensive Metrics: Much like Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, Van Gundy, who’s now the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, is also his team’s president of basketball operations.

That means in addition to coaching up the players on the roster, he has to also be the final say in assembling the players at his disposal. A major part of that is figuring out the right pieces defensively, but he said he still hasn’t seen anything with all the new defensive metrics out there that he really likes or trusts.

Most of what he’s seen Van Gundy said relies on 1-on-1 data.

“I don’t think that really hits on the essence of defense,” Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy said with a player such as Redick, a team can have great defense because a defender won’t make mistakes, even if the player isn’t the prototypical or ideal individual defender.

 “Those are things I think these defensive metrics miss out on,” said Van Gundy, who added that building a great defense is much more about bringing in highly committed, tough, smart, focused players since actual lockdown defenders are so few in the NBA.

That’s something Redick agreed with. 

“You need guys that are disciplined, guys that buy into the game plan,” Redick said. “And, you need a defensive guru to structure a great defensive game plan.”

Van Gundy said there are plenty of players in the NBA, some of his young players included, who are solid individual defenders but haven’t learned enough about recognizing situations or NBA defenses to be where they can be as team defenders.

“That learning curve, it takes some time in this league to recognize all those different situations and all the counters that could be coming,” Van Gundy said.

 

On being coach and president: As Rivers knows, there are extra challenges and benefits to being a team’s president in addition to its head coach.

Van Gundy said the greatest challenge in doing both jobs isn’t the workload, since he trusts the people around him on both the coaching side and the front office side to play their part and do much of that work; it’s time management.

“It’s, ‘Where is the most valuable way to spend my time?’” Van Gundy said. “Am I better off today going in doing coaching work, sitting down and watching these playoff games to see what I can learn in terms of coaching next year, or am I better off watching film of draft guys, or am I better off watching film of free agents?”

Van Gundy said that’s where having people around him he believes in matters so much. He also believes in transparency and accountability, two traits Redick said he recognized when he played for Van Gundy in Orlando.

“It starts at the top,” Van Gundy said. “You have to hold the people at the top accountable to get the people below them to accept that.”

 

The right guys: Van Gundy said finding players with character isn’t hard, nor is finding players with talent.

It’s finding those with both that can be a challenge.

 “You can be tempted to take shortcuts to get results and take on two or three guys that are low-character guys who are great talent,” Van Gundy said. “For a while, that may work. It takes time for a locker room to come together, and it takes time for a locker room to break down. Those guys might come in and give you an immediate boost, but over time it starts to decay everything you built up. I don’t think it’ll work in the long run.”

Redick agreed that the times in his career where he’s seen a culture breakdown, it’s been “a buildup of small things” that eventually leads to a team’s demise.

 

New style: A decade ago, Redick’s team in Orlando tried to surround Dwight Howard with shooters.

That’s become a trend in the NBA, getting an athletic big with size surrounded by players who can switch onto guards or forwards and play a variety of positions. Van Gundy said that began as a bit of an accident after acquiring Rashard Lewis.

The Magic had another future Clipper, Hedo Turkoglu, at the same time, and they would have to play together around Howard after Tony Battie got hurt.

“I think Dwight was maybe the first guy in what everybody wants now as the new breed of centers,” Van Gundy said. “Those are the guys everybody wants now, defense, rebounding, pick-and-roll lobs with their centers and they wanted to spread the floor out.”

Van Gundy said today’s NBA also includes a lot more teams playing two point guards together.

“You’re really seeing the way the league’s going, maybe more so in the East than the West, the importance of having quality backup point guards,” Van Gundy said.

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