The first preseason game for the Portland Trail Blazers was filled with mistakes and sloppy play. There will undoubtedly be a learning curve for the new defense. After years of relying on isolations and pick-and-roll offense, it will likely look clunky initially as the players try to be unselfish and move the ball. This resulted in a 26 turnover performance on offense and a defense that gave up a ton of open three point shots.
Head Coach Chauncey Billups has a critically important week ahead of him. The Blazers don’t play again until the following Monday. While fans hate the long break in between games, it’s the ideal situation for Billups to establish the exact way he wants to coach this team. It also gives him a chance to show each player what he expects of them and what needs to improve.
So how can Billups accomplish this? One of his coaching mottos provides the answer. At media day, Billups said one of his philosophies is to “put an address on it.” Blowing a rotation, failing to box out for a rebound, falling asleep off-ball as your man cuts to the basket, and getting beat to a loose ball due to a lack of effort, are just a few examples of times where players need to be held accountable. To “put an address” on it means that players will be called out when they make these types of mistakes.
That accountability leads to good habits. Anyone who has ever played a team sport knows that when watching game film you want to avoid having moments where you get called out in front of everybody. While on the court, you consciously think about not messing up so you don’t get clowned in front of your teammates. Eventually you work your way to a point where you just start doing the things the coach expects of you naturally, without thinking about it.
For Billups so far, it appears the players have bought into his coaching. However, that isn’t something that can be taken for granted. From the game last night, there are plenty of teachable moments for every player that saw action. Billups will now lay the foundation of accountability. Each player should want to accept these improvements in order for the system to work. Those that have a problem with said accountability are probably not going to be around long.
You can talk about expectations all day but being able to show someone exactly what and why something went wrong in an actual game is invaluable to the process. If Billups can get everyone on the same page with what needs to change then he will be well on his way to becoming the coach he’s talked about wanting to be.