Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
On Saturday, the Orlando Magic announced the hiring of Jacque Vaughn as their new head coach, thus officially closing the door on the Stan Van Gundy era after five years.
Prior to his hiring, Vaughn served as the assistant coach under head coach Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs for two seasons in 2011 and 2012. And prior to that, Vaughn played 12 seasons in the NBA mostly as a back-up point guard, winning a championship with the the Spurs in 2007 while backing up Tony Parker.
This will be Vaughn’s first head coaching gig in the league.
With Vaughn’s hiring, it’s clear at this point that the Magic are fully committed to trying to emulate the Oklahoma City and San Antonio model of building an NBA franchise. More specifically, it’s more than obvious that Orlando wants to achieve the same level of long-term success and sustainability, as a small market team, that the Spurs have achieved and that the Thunder are well on their way of achieving — with the added benefit of having one of the best, if not the best, arena in the league, an ownership willing to spend, and a city that’s historically drawn high-profile free agents in the past.
Will Vaughn be the head coach to help the Magic reach their goals?
That question remains to be answered. What can be answered are questions related to the hiring of Vaughn. The trio of Graydon Gordian, Andrew McNeill, and Tim Varner from the TrueHoop Network’s sister site, 48 Minutes of Hell (a Spurs-based blog), share their knowledge of Vaughn and project his future as Orlando’s newest head coach.
What type of head coach will Jacque Vaughn be?
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: While beloved by Popovich, I don’t expect Vaughn to emulate his acerbic, demanding style. Vaughn’s experience in the NBA will more likely make him a “player’s coach,” as they say. Given the tension between certain members of the Magic and Stan Van Gundy, Vaughn’s more amicable, understated demeanor might be a breathe of fresh air.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: It’s hard to tell based on his behind-the-bench role with the Spurs the last two seasons, but after coaching the Spurs’ Vegas Summer League team I get the impression Vaughn is a “player’s coach.” Vaughn relates to younger players well because of his experience with both the on-court and off-court parts of the NBA. He can surround himself with an X’s & O’s-type of assistant coach and really succeed.
Tim Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Vaughn is only a partial Popovich disciple — he also played for Jerry Sloan (among others). Above all else, Popovich values intelligence. Vaughn, who writes poetry and has a knack for relating to players, is said to have a surplus of smarts.
What will be Vaughn’s offensive philosophy?
Gordian: It’s tough to say exactly, but if he truly is a disciple of Popovich, the offense in Orlando might not change dramatically. Although they go about doing so in slightly different ways, both Van Gundy and Popovich focus on scoring at the rim and from beyond the three-point line. Vaughn will likely look to have his guys in Orlando doing the same.
McNeill: Again, tough to say. With the Spurs, Vaughn’s role was as a behind-the-bench assistant, so his impact was limited on a game-by-game basis. I would expect him to take a look at what he has in Orlando and tailor whatever system he wants to implement to those players. Simply trying to force “your system” on whatever players a roster has when you arrive is a recipe for a flop.
Varner: Given his background, I expect Vaughn to feature an endless amount of pick-and-rolls. One wonders if his recent seasons with the Spurs means he will push the pace, but Vaughn is so young it’s hard to know much more about him other than he’s earned his shot.
What will be Vaughn’s defensive philosophy?
Gordian: As long as Dwight Howard is on the Orlando Magic, it allows for aggressive closeouts and even a bit of gambling on the part of perimeter defenders. But as far as specific wrinkles the defense will utilize, Vaughn wasn’t involved enough in the crafting of San Antonio’s defense to predict his philosophy with much accuracy.
McNeill: Funnel anyone and anything to Dwight Howard. That’d be my guess. In the event that Howard gets traded, well, I would think his new defensive system would involve prayer.
Varner: I haven’t the first clue. Curiosity runs high.