Jacque Vaughn offered glimpses of his personality during his introductory news conference Monday. He revealed that he has a favorite poet (Maya Angelou). He displayed a sense of humor; when asked when he started to think about becoming a coach, he responded, “When my knees and my ankles started hurting. You get a little smarter then.”
But what will his coaching style be like?
He gave a few clues after the news conference ended when I asked him to describe the offense his team will run.
“I don’t think I’ll pigeonhole myself into a certain style,” he answered. “I’ve been kind of inclusive about the different styles I’ve played against. Coach [Jerry] Sloan had a style that he used for 20 years. Pop [Gregg Popovich] has been extremely innovative. I watch the game of basketball internationally, and I love some of the things that they do.
“For me, it’s about putting guys in a position to make plays. I will not call a play every single time down the floor. My demeanor on the sideline is more calm, not garish at all, and I think players will be receptive to that and want to play. As long as I can teach them, and they’re receptive to teaching, then I’ll let them make plays.”
What’s the biggest takeaway from that?
It’s that he said he would project calmness.
In that way, if he’s able to do that when games count, he’ll contrast with his predecessor, Stan Van Gundy.
Van Gundy got results, and players responded to him even after Dwight Howard underwent season-ending back surgery. Indeed, many players were outspoken in their support of Van Gundy after the season, saying that they wanted Van Gundy to return. And Van Gundy compiled a 259-135 regular-season record over five seasons for a franchise-best .657 winning percentage.
But if Howard had a criticism of Van Gundy, it was Van Gundy’s occasionally demonstrative sideline demeanor and his propensity to harp on mistakes. Howard discussed that in an interview with Esquire magazine last offseason.
It remains to be seen just how sharply Vaughn’s style will contrast with Van Gundy’s or whether Magic players will respond better to a coach who has a more placid style on the sideline.
Still, if the Magic do emphasize the development of young players, Vaughn’s approach might work.