Steve Clifford Needs To Make The Playoffs For Employment


Steve Clifford entered this year with high hopes as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. Set with some new faces including the “superstar” Lance Stephenson, he had all the right pieces to make a run at the shabby Eastern Conference. Fast forward several months, and the team is sitting out of the playoffs, wondering what comes next. And for Clifford, he’s wondering what he did wrong, and what he will need to do in the future.

Shortly after the Oklahoma City Thunder fired their head coach Scott Brooks, many Hornets fans took to Twitter to express that they felt the team should do the same with their coach, and go after the freshly available Brooks to lead their team.

Brooks was one of the better coaches in the NBA, in my opinion, and I didn’t see this coming. It just goes to show that not really any coach is completely safe, and that definitely includes Clifford.

It’s been made clear all year to me that fans aren’t the biggest supporters of Clifford. I’ve read countless Tweets exclaiming that Clifford is the main issue. He dug himself further into a hole with these doubters after the season ended, blaming himself for both bringing Stephenson to the team this offseason, as well as being the culprit for his off year.

He does have Kemba Walker‘s support, which may be enough to keep him in Charlotte for the time being, as well as his contract that goes through this year, due to a clause on him making the playoffs in his first year. But what is in store for him after this? Surely he must make the playoffs in 2016 in order to secure a future any longer than next season.

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Hornets re-hire Steve Clifford as head coach after Kenny Atkinson turned down job
Hornets re-hire Steve Clifford as head coach after Kenny Atkinson turned down job /


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  • Clifford has had a decent career. He’s worked his way up the ladder with assistant coaching, and really showed some potential as a head coach, but these last two seasons haven’t been great for Charlotte. Sure, last year they made the playoffs, but only to lose in the first round. Definitely not the goal of the team. It was a step in the right direction, but if you can’t capitalize by making the playoffs the next year as well, it really puts a damper on your success as a coach in the preceding year.

    He has had major flaws. Being unable to work in players that have potentials to make huge impacts has been a huge problem, on top of his inability to focus on offense once in a while. Clifford has a strange obsession with defense, it seems at times. While Clifford was able to successfully make the Hornets’ defense a lot better than how it was when he took over, he’s neglected the offensive side of the ball. In the NBA, you must have a good offensive structure in order to make it into the playoffs, and be successful there.

    Now, fans are at risk of getting bored. If another year of missing the playoffs happens next year, fans will surely ask for Clifford’s head on a platter from the front office. Something must be done by Clifford if he wishes to keep this job. As fans, we don’t get to know about a lot of the meeting behind closed doors between management and the coaches, but I think an ultimatum is in place for Clifford. Rich Cho and Michael Jordan may need to set some things straight before the season starts next year.

    It would be different if the expectations were lower. However, with the roster that Clifford has been given, and his great debut year, we all had high expectations for the team this year, and have the same for next year, despite the injuries sustained during this season. I believe in Clifford, and believe he can adjust to make his team a playoff caliber team, but I also believe he must make the playoffs in order to keep his job. Next offseason we could be hearing about Clifford being fired instead of Brooks.

    Next: Has Jamaal Charles Lost a Step?

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