In a Clippers offseason largely marked by a preservation of last year’s roster (with a few intriguing moves along the fringes and one poignant goodbye), the most significant moves might be more visible in the practice facilities than on the court. With recently hired assistant coaches Brian Shaw and Jay Larranaga preparing to replace the Chauncey Billups, Roy Rogers, and Kenny Atkinson-sized holes on Ty Lue’s staff, we at Clips Nation thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce the 2021-22 front bench coaching staff.
It’s the advent of year two in the Ty Lue Era, whose opening saw the Clippers post a 47-25 record off a 116.7 Offensive Rating (3rd in the league), 110.6 Defensive Rating (8th), and a +6.1 Net Rating (2nd). In the postseason, the Clippers beat out the Mavericks and Jazz in seven and six games, respectively, and took the Suns to six games in the Western Conference Finals (the first WCF appearance in team history). With an emphasis on drive-and-kick team basketball, improved 3-point shooting, and playing in the half court (with a pace rating of 97.6 that ranked 28th league-wide), the architect of Clippers basketball in the 2020-21 season traced out a fine foundation to build on.
DC was tasked with being the defensive coordinator for the Clippers, joining Ty Lue’s staff last year after serving in various coaching positions for the Miami Heat and its affiliates from 2003 to 2020, helping the Heat reach the NBA Finals six times and hoist the Larry O B thrice, as well as accumulating an inspiring reputation for being a tremendous coach, helpful team member, and all-around great guy. If the only metric for a coach’s value were how many appreciation posts their last fan base shared when the Clips lured them away, Dan would be the James Bond of Assistant Coaches. The best part? That’s not the only metric. We also have the slew of glowing defensive ratings and statistics that Dan Craig helped foster.
Clippers fanatics would have also noticed this man on the sidelines just last month, as Jeremy Castleberry, close confidant of Kawhi Leonard and assistant coach to Ty Lue, also coached the Clippers summer league team in Vegas earlier this year. Castleberry has been one of only two assistant coaches to have survived the transition from the Doc Rivers administration to Ty Lue’s, and has previously worked in the assistant coaching capacities for the Raptors and Spurs.
With over 29 years of NBA coaching experience (and 10 years of NBA player experience) under his belt, assistant coach Larry Drew joined Ty Lue’s staff with the Clippers last year. We can expect him to continue with the same role as last year: Being primarily tasked with assisting Lue on offense. In year one, the Clippers were top five in both offensive rating and effective field-goal percentage.
After serving on the Celtics assistant coaching staff for the past nine years (including seven years as Brad Stevens’ lead assistant) and helping Boston reach the conference finals three times, Jay is the first of two recent hires to Ty Lue’s coaching staff. A highly respected basketball mind, Jay has also received offers to coach for Georgia Tech and George Mason at the collegiate level, but chose to work with Lue and the Clips in pursuit of their first title. Lue may be hoping that Jay can replace Chauncey Billups’ role on the bench and film room as another played-adored tactician.
As the second recent hire, Brian Shaw has the experience of a 15-year veteran of the league, as well as various head coaching and assistant coaching positions for the Lakers, Pacers, Nuggets, and G League Ignite team. Having coached the G League Ignite team in its inaugural season, including would-be 2021 draftees Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Isaiah Todd, Shaw’s expected role under Lue is as the leader in player development, in lieu of recent departure Kenny Atkinson.
Brendan O’Connor has been on the Clippers assistant coaching staff for the last eight years, and is the second of two assistant coaches to have been retained. Being the longest tenured coach on the bench next season, Brendan seeks to preserve the Clippers culture on the court and beyond.
Lue might look for one more coach to round out his staff. Seemingly preferring experience and perhaps looking to fill the void left by Roy Rogers, who was previously tasked with coaching and developing the big men specifically, the Clippers front office may consider names such as James Posey (former NBA forward and assistant coach for Lue with the Cavaliers) and Patrick Ewing (ex-NBA legend and current Georgetown head coach). Maybe the Clippers elevate a coach from their renowned player development department such as Shaun Fein or Dahntay Jones.
Per usual, the Clippers move in silence and thus official speculation and news is hard to come by. While we may not know at this moment who will have earned a spot on the front bench for certain, we can rest assured that Lue, Lawrence Frank, Steve Ballmer, and the Clippers will settle for no one but the best to lead this team come 7 p.m. on Oct. 21.
Until then, let us know, who would you like to see hold a Clip-board next season?