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Topic Tuesday: What is Joe Mazzulla’s identity as a coach?

What do you think of when you hear the name Joe Mazzulla?

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Forgive the somewhat esoteric topic today, but I am finding it hard to pick out issues that I’m concerned with and it is blissfully boring to have nothing but good things to say about a team. So I’m going more philosophical for this one.

Some coaches are strategists with great game plans that can pick the other team apart. Others are motivators, either through charisma or through sheer force of will. Some are defense first, others are offense all the way. Some are micromanagers that want their fingerprints on every single play. Others are more hands off, choosing to allow the players to adjust to the flow of the game. Of course most coaches will say that they strive for a little bit of all of the above. But eventually you can see a pattern develop and a coach will show tendencies that differentiate him from his peers.

It is still early yet, and this may be defined more by the postseason than the first 25 games of the regular season. However, I think we’re starting to get a feel for Joe Mazzulla and his fundamental style as a coach.

I have some initial thoughts, but they are far from fully developed and I’d be interested in your takes in the comments below.

Thrust into the job rather abruptly, the early messaging from Joe was that he wouldn’t change too much about the team from last year. Then all they did was completely change their identity from defensive juggernaut to offensive juggernaut without a whole lot of change to the personnel. Does that mean that Joe is an offense first guy? Or did the team just figure some stuff out on offense that clicked into place as he arrived?

At times it seems we find ourselves screaming at the TV (or in person) for Joe to call a timeout and stop the bleeding in a particular run by the other team. But he likes to let the players play through those stretches and overcome them on their own. So far, so good on that front.

If I have any nit to pick with Mazzulla it might be the minutes that the starters are playing. Every coach feels inclined to go for every win and the temptation is very strong to ride your best players as long as they can go. However, in the long term you need those guys well rested and preserved for the playoffs. As a side benefit, you can get bench players more meaningful reps and experience that could pay dividends when they are called upon in the postseason.

In general he seems like a guy that connects well with the players and has a good overall strategy that he lets the players take ownership of and implement themselves. Of course winning makes everyone look like a genius. So we’ll see how he and the team respond if and when there’s a rough patch at some point.

So what other thoughts do you have about the reigning Coach of the Month?

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