The Idaho Stampede hired Bob MacKinnon as their new coach yesterday, replacing Bryan Gates who is now an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. We briefly looked at MacKinnon's credentials on Saturday, but now that he's been hired a closer look at the work he did last year is probably in order.
If there's one thing the Colorado 14ers did last season, it was run. As the local CBS affiliate's news story notes, the team averaged 120 points a game last year, which is still on the high side even for the uptempo D-League. They relied on a bevy of athletic players including John Lucas, Trey Gilder, Sonny Weems, Dominique Coleman and James Mays as well as dependable veterans like Josh Davis, Eddie Gill and Joe Dabbert, and finished the season first in both pace and offensive rating. Small lineups were not uncommon to see, with Davis at center and Gilder playing power forward alongside three guards. In part this was due to the foul trouble that all three of the centers on Colorado's roster towards the end of the season were foul-prone, but it also made smart use of the team's personnel. The team also had several players leave at various points due either to injury or being called up by the NBA, such as Mays, Cheikh Samb and Sean Williams. As MacKinnon himself noted in this "A Day in the Life" piece, flexibility is a trait he prizes, so he is likely confident in his ability to adapt his style if need be.
Will MacKinnon be able to implement the same style in Idaho? At the risk of asking a question then immediately copping out, I'm not sure. Idaho finished 14th (out of 16 teams) in pace last season, but a few of the players on that roster who may have preferred that pace, such as Nate Jawai or Lance Allred, are no longer around. However, there are some players who may thrive in MacKinnon's offense, such as Coby Karl and Luke Jackson, who won't be back either. Should Mohammed Abukar return, however, I think he'd do well, and he has experience playing at a faster pace from his time in Austin. MacKinnon also will be without the services of lockdown defender Brent Petway, and while Colorado's defense was about average last year (8th in the league), Petway's absence, perhaps in conjunction with MacKinnon's running style, makes it unlikely that the Stampede will repeat as the D-League's best defense.
A few closing comments: one fun aspect of this hire is that the "feud" between MacKinnon and Utah Flash owner Brandt Andersen (which as far as I know may be completely one-sided, which is the best/most hilarious kind of feud) may be kept alive. This also means that Rio Grande Valley is the only D-League team without a head coach in place. Congratulations to MacKinnon on being hired, and to the Idaho Stampede for finding a solid coach for their team.