Mark Jackson perhaps not ‘Mr Right’ for Golden State Warriors, but a fair ‘Mr Right Now’

His players are fiercely loyal to him and, looking around, is there anybody out there who could realistically do any better, asks Jonathan Raymond.
Head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors gestures as he complains to a referee in the game with the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference play-offs at Staples Center on May 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
Head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors gestures as he complains to a referee in the game with the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference play-offs at Staples Center on May 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

After the Golden State Warriors bowed out of the NBA play-offs over the weekend, the popular presumption is that coach Mark Jackson appears on his way out.

Golden State stumbled at times through a maddeningly inconsistent regular season en route to earning just the sixth seed. A club with high ambitions, Warriors management wanted more than a first-round exit.

Jackson is not noted for his tactical acumen, and the bizarre dismissal of two assistants also calls into question his ability to work with the kind of creative staff he needs to overcome that deficiency.

Still, Jackson should be allowed another season.

First, his players are fiercely loyal to him. Star guard Stephen Curry told the San Jose Mercury News, “I love coach more than anybody” and called the uncertainty around his position “totally unfair”.

Second, it is not clear any alternative is readily available who could get the Warriors to another level. The reality is the Warriors, as currently constructed, have a bit of a ceiling compared to more realistic title aspirants – Jackson or not.

That is at the heart, I would argue, of Jackson’s case for one more go. Can someone like Steve Kerr or Stan Van Gundy really get this current iteration of the Warriors to play like a serious title contender? Is there some way to reconstruct Golden State on the fly to better fit a new coach and still remain a play-off team?

It’s not entirely clear the answer is “yes” to either of those questions.

The third-year coach also deserves credit for getting his troops to battle a Clippers club to seven games in a series that, without Andrew Bogut, they should have been overmatched. Inspiration and motivation have always been Mark Jackson’s calling card, and if you believe the Warriors shouldn’t have really hung for seven games with Los Angeles in the first place, the idea that he can do more with less seems pretty compelling.

So without a clear path to significantly upgrading the current roster, why upset what you have?

It would take something on the level, right now, of swapping David Lee for Kevin Love in some fantasy land to push this team up another notch.

So if, in another year’s time, the Warriors are still hitting a wall, then yes, explore other options. See what can be done.

But for now, Jackson deserves, and has probably earned, one more shot at seeing just how far he can push this group.

jraymond@thenational.ae

Published: May 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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