Column: Chicago Is The Perfect Fit For Former Gators Coach Billy Donovan
Sometimes in life, you need a change of scenery.
And it doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong with you or someone else or something else. People are finite, and so are relationships.
Yes, some relationships last longer than others. Many of us grew up in married households where your parents have seemingly been together forever. Also, many of us grew up in homes where the thought of our parents together at all seems odd.
Either way, in relationships, like people, at some point the story ends. On September 8th, the story of Billy Donovan as the Oklahoma City Thunder's head coach ended. After five years and five playoff appearances, the 56-year-old coach and the organization mutually agreed to part ways.
And just two weeks later, Donovan has started dating again. With interest from multiple teams the night he became single, the former Gators head coach is now with the Chicago Bulls.
For Donovan, OKC was the marriage that just didn't work out. No need for bad blood, both parties just respectfully moved on. But Chicago was the work friend that's always around, the one where the conversation at the water cooler always lasts a little longer than it does with anyone else.
Chicago was 'the one' all along. Here's why.
While Donovan has shown success at the pro level, and he has proven more than capable of winning in the NBA (239-153 record as head coach with 15 playoff wins), his coaching style is still that of a college coach. He is at his best when he takes young, raw and slightly underrated talent and makes it all work.
The reality is, as attractive as the Thunder job was at the time he took it, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook never fit that description. Donovan's best attribute as a coach, player development, was somewhat stripped of him. What else can you teach Kevin Durant that he doesn't already know?
So, this brings us to the Bulls.
Guard Zach LaVine averages 25 points per game. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound 25-year-old out of UCLA has proven himself as one of the best young scorers in the game. Point guard Coby White out of North Carolina is already averaging 13.2 points per game at just 20 years old. Also, 23-year-old, 7-foot Lauri Markkanen brings you 14.7 points per game along with 6.3 rebounds.
The Bulls also have some veteran leadership, such as Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr. Between the two of them lies 22 years of NBA experience to such an otherwise-young squad.
This team has talent, but it isn't good.
In the past five years, Chicago has one playoff appearance, a first-round exit thanks to the Boston Celtics. Further, in an 82-game schedule, the windy city's basketball team hasn't reached 30 wins in each of its past three seasons.
With a less-than-elite bunch this season in OKC, UF's former head man got the Thunder back to the playoffs. That was an impressive feat, considering the only players on that roster that could ever begin to think about being all-stars are Steven Adams and Chris Paul.
It was the best year in OKC for Donovan to flex his muscle as a coach. Without Westbrook to overload the stat sheet and dribble out possessions, we got to see Donovan's mind at work for seemingly the first time since he wore the collegiate version of orange and blue.
The result? Taking a much more talented Houston Rockets team to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
Donovan in Chicago, with more young talent than this past year in OKC, will get to be what he was supposed to be in Oklahoma City - a developer of young talent. As bad as the Bulls have been, it is a strikingly attractive roster with tons of upside.
It seems as though this relationship could be "the one" for both parties. This could be the one you take home to mom and dad.
Now, with a sure-to-be strange offseason ahead due to COVID-19 and a start date for next season coming no earlier than Christmas Day, we will have to wait to see how the first date goes.