If I was going to break it down and tell you what Billy Donovan’s biggest issue is, I’d say it’s his lack of control over his team. Managing big personalities in the NBA isn’t easy, but it’s even more difficult when you’ve got to manage both Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
You didn’t have to watch too many games this season to realize that Billy Donovan didn’t have much control over this team. We saw Donavan make multiple adjustments, and draw up plenty out of timeout plays, yet it simply didn’t translate to the court. In order to translate your coaching on the court, you’ve got to get your guys to buy in to your scheme. It seems like Billy Donovan hasn’t been able to get Russell Westbrook to buy in at any point of his four years in OKC.
The Thunder held their exit interviews on Thursday afternoon. My biggest takeaway from the day was Dennis Schröder’s comments on Billy Donovan. Schröder was in every way trying to compliment Donovan, but he also showed a major flaw.
Here’s what he had to say:
Interesting here from Dennis Schroder on Billy Donovan and the Thunder coach listening to players.
Schroder didn't say this with any malice, but pretty clear even Schroder's not quite sure about how Billy goes about this whole thing: pic.twitter.com/42YnxB59HS
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) April 25, 2019
Billy Donovan has come off as a “passive coach” on multiple occasions. While listening to your players is important, it’s also important to maintain a certain level of respect over your players. Giving a guy Russell Westbrook too much say so can result in several issues. We saw these issues in full display this season whether it was the poor shot selections on offense, or the lack of effort on defense.
If a guy like Dennis Schröder can see how this is a problem, then surely the Thunder’s front office should see it as well. I do not hate the idea of Donovan returning next season, but if he does, major changes have to be made. Schröder confirmed what we already knew, Billy D had no control over his team this season.