Mark Jackson and Don Nelson are very different people.
Nelson was boisterous, out-of-the-box, off-the-wall and innovative. Jackson, granted still a young coach, is a bit more reserved, works on relating to players and has a completely different focus. Yes, their coaching philosophies are completely different.
Don Nelson was about offense. Everything he did was innovating the offensive end of the floor. He created the point forward. He pushed his teams to run fast breaks and hoist as many shots as possible, without regard to efficiency. The more possessions his team had, the more opportunities they had to score.
In his first year in Golden State, Mark Jackson brought a different tact to his team. He stressed not the offense, but that often-forgotten d-word in Northern California. Jackson wanted to build his team into a defensive one.
It was a bit of a square peg trying to enter a round hole -- or hoop.
The Warriors finished 14th in the league in offensive rating last year, according to Basketball-Reference, posting 105.4 points per 100 possessions. That was down from 2011's 108.2, 12th place finish.
Defensively, however, the Warriors did not show much improvement. Golden State posted a 110.7 defensive rating in 2011, good for 26th in the league. Last year, that number improved to 109.1, but that was still 27th in the league.
Golden State has a long way to go to get where Mark Jackson likely envisions them. And the change of culture needed to start through last year's struggles.
Look at the players on the Warriors' roster now.
Gone is Monta Ellis, Nate Robinson and Kwame Brown, two players who were less than stellar defensively. In is Harrison Barnes, a player that is more than capable of stepping up defensively. In is Andrew Bogut, a much stronger defensive player than Andris Biedrins, Brown or even power forward battery-mate David Lee. In is Richard Jefferson, a solid defender throughout his career with winning experience to impart. In is Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, two players whose forte in college was defense.
What Jackson is slowly working toward is a change of culture. He is hoping to instill a sense of pride defensively in sharpshooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while they are young and developing. Defense is a habit and it is something you have to learn at a young age in the league.
With a renewed focus and emphasis on defense, Jackson is getting the team there. But Golden State is not going to put everything together defensively all of a sudden. It will take some more gradual work and improvement to get there.
And there is still a lot of work ahead for Mark Jackson to make this change.
Will the Warriors improve defensively? Join the discussion in the comments below or on Twitter by using the hashtag #WarriorsDay.
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