Better than VDN - absolutely.
Were expectations too high as to how far DOC could take the Clippers in the playoffs? That's a fair question. If expectations were too high, then that would make Doc over-rated.
Great coaches get the best out of their players and out of their team. During this season, we have seen performances from the Clippers' Big Three that Clipper fans have not seen before. DJ so far is surpassing his nightly rebound totals by about three rebounds. CP3 was very aggressive offensively to start the season and has posted career best numbers in a couple of his games. BG has elevated his game to its highest level yet during last few games by showing a wide-ranging offensive game while showing more effort on defense and rebounding the ball.
Still, something doesn't quite seem right. In two, recent tough road games that might count as moral victories, the Clippers still failed to win the game at the end when they had chances to do so. In the recent Utah game, the Clippers looked absolutely ugly during the first half. The losses to Phoenix at home and the loss to the Spurs were outright humiliating.
In the face of these losses, it wasn't that long ago when Doc said that the team was "very close" to being "really good". Does Doc have many good excuses for the team playing so poorly, so regularly, so recently?
Of course, it hurt the team for JJ to go down with a broken wrist. Regardless, the Clippers have a lot of depth at the wing and the Clippers managed very well last year with Willie Green at the starting two-guard. Last year, however, I don't remember so many lackluster performances by the Clippers is such a short time frame. Even when CP3 goes out with an injury, is there any good reason for a team with the highest paid coach in the NBA to turn a regular season game into a layup drill and allow the other team to go up by 35 points at half-time?
From a management standpoint, does Doc (without Danny Ainge) have the management chops to assess and recruit the talent that the Clippers need to go to the next level? Bledsoe is gone and the Clippers now have two, unathletic 29 year old players who have been life-long subs. The Clippers have no front court depth and decided to sign Barnes for $3 Million while already having 5 wings on the roster. The Clippers have at least four players on their active roster who most fans hope to see DNP- Coaches Decision next to their names (Jamison, Jackson, Mullens, Hollins).
Doc gives good speeches, but does that translate into results? While he took the Celtics from almost worst to best in 2008, having three hall-of-famers in or near their prime was perhaps the defining factor. That turnaround would argue Doc's coaching success is largely player-dependent (like most coaches). The roster that Doc has constructed seems to lack the talent that would be required to make a title run. His coaching abilities simply aren't good enough to take this particular team to the next level.
Bynum and Melo, anyone?