What Brooks must show if the wizards bring him back originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

With the end oDuring the season for the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, following their loss in Game 5 to the Philadelphia 76ers, also comes the end of head coach Scott Brooks’ contract. Now, the Wizards’ management has a decision to make on whether or not the coach who has led the team for the past five seasons returns.

Brooks has expressed his desire to return to Washington and has received repeated endorsements from star point guard Russell Westbrook, whom he also coached in Oklahoma City for several years. It is obvious that the players love Brooks and that he handles the human part of the job well.

“He kept us together, he encouraged us, he made us fight,” Westbrook said Wednesday. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit for it, but he deserves a lot of credit for putting us in a position to be successful.”

On the court, Brooks is 183-207 (0.469 winning percentage) in Washington with three playoff appearances, reaching only the second round this first season. His playoff record is 10-14 (0.417 winning percentage). He won 49 respectable games in his first season with Washington in 2016-17, but that total fell lower in each of the following three years. The Wizards hit a low of 25 wins in 2020 before rebounding to 34 this season and their first playoff appearance since 2017-18.

It’s fair to wonder how much better those numbers would be if John Wall didn’t run out of time so much or the team were able to stick with past picks and write better or make better trades, but leave Brooks without responsibility would give him an edge of the doubt that most NBA coaches don’t understand. Things like injuries are generally seen as excuses in a results-driven business, excuses that are not offered to many.

The Wizards front office has the unenviable task of trying to compartmentalize these kinds of issues, whether it’s injuries, rostering, and just plain bad luck over the last few seasons, to determine just how badly they are. Collective results during this period, positive or negative, can be attributed to the coach. But these aforementioned factors complicate the decision to re-sign Brooks, as relative to expectations, his teams generally finished where they probably should, although they rarely exceed that spot.

After adopting a competition-ready team that Randy Wittman took to the conference semifinals twice in four years, Brooks guided the Wizards to their most successful season since the 1970s in his first year. The 49-game Wizards pushed the seeded Celtics to seven games in a conference semi-final appearance. Washington entered the top of that conference near-final the following year, but their star leader, John Wall, began to physically collapse. He missed much of the second half of 2017-18 and the team limped in the playoffs before being bounced back in six games by the Raptors. Wall would only play 32 more games for Washington, in 2018-19, and missed the entire 2019-20 season. His absence these two years left Bradley Beal as Brooks’ only reliable option until the team returned Wall for Westbrook.

The addition of Westbrook got the Wizards back in the playoffs this year, and although the playoff spot came in with a less than 500 record and an eighth place finish, it’s fair to say that injuries and an outbreak of coronavirus played a role. And with plenty of holes left on the roster, there’s no shame in coming out of the first-round playoffs at the hands of the top-ranked team in the conference.

What the Wizards front office needs to determine now is whether Brooks is the right person to lead this team once those holes are filled, if he can maximize the talent given to him and maybe even exceed outside expectations. . To do this, Brooks will need to demonstrate the offensive ingenuity necessary to integrate and use these new parts and perhaps more flexibility with his rotations. The Wizards also need to eventually consolidate a defense that did not finish above 15th in defensive during his five-year tenure, finishing twice in the last three teams, including a worst league result in 2019- 2020.

General manager Tommy Sheppard gave Brooks credit for doing “a hell of a job under the circumstances,” but said there would be an assessment process to determine the coach’s status. “Now the question is, do we have enough talent here, do we have enough strength in the coaching staff to move forward?” But the questions shouldn’t end there.

Brooks’ resume includes an impressive run with the Thunder, including a berth to the NBA Finals with Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden in 2012. Is he a coach creative enough to bring a team without a third superstar into competition against a newly competitive Eastern Conference with the same success? Can he improve the team’s defense? And can he do it fast enough not to spoil the showcase of the superstar who endorsed him?



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