OKC Thunder bench boss Billy Donovan enters this season on the hot seat

OKC Thunder: Billy Donovan (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Billy Donovan (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

Pundits preseason predictions assert OKC Thunder bench boss Billy Donovan is among those most in jeopardy of losing his job. T.I. dives into what the main criteria should be in terms of his job retention.

As the 2019-20 NBA season rapidly approaches pundits are making predictions on which teams and players will excel this season. Likewise, analysts consider which Head Coaches are most in jeopardy of losing their jobs. OKC Thunder head coach Billy Donovan will definitely be among those cited as most in jeopardy of keeping his job.

For example, Ben Golliver of the Washington Post offered up his top five list with the OKC Thunder bench boss making the list. Interestingly two other coaches on Golliver’s list also have ties to OKC. Former Thunder and now Wizards bench boss Scottie Brooks and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni both make his list. The latter presumably being in the line of fire if he can’t make the James HardenRussell Westbrook backcourt shine.

Why Donovan is in danger:

Billy Donovan’s selection isn’t that surprising especially since he’s been outcoached in back to back playoffs with two superstars on his team. He’s also in the last year of his contract so an early dismissal won’t cost the team exponentially.

In terms of what would solicit his firing, the situation isn’t quite as cut and dry as previous seasons. General Manager, Sam Presti will need to assess his youthful assets to determine if or how they’ll fit the future direction of the club. That means exposing the younger players to clutch time situations to see how they will respond which could translate into the squad losing some close matches.

Although Chris Paul will play with a similar competitive edge to Westbrook and Danilo Gallinari also is keen to stockpile W’s, their long-term presence on the team is unlikely. Furthermore, the Thunder begins the season with arguably the most difficult schedule in the Association. With these caveats, the team could easily fall to the bottom of the West (and quickly).

So, losing games won’t necessarily be the main criteria for Donovan’s job safety. Given the dynamics, the more important baseline should be how Billy D integrates the youngsters into the mix and how quickly he can develop their games.

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In the past four seasons, Donovan hasn’t shown a propensity to give his youngsters run especially in critical situations.

Arguably the main factor will be development. Jerami Grant could be cited as the greatest gain by a youngster but his improvement was tied to time spent with assistant Adrian Griffin who left a season ago.

Fit and chemistry will be another factor. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is earmarked as the future of the club either doesn’t mesh with Donovan or doesn’t showcase growth under Billy’s tutelage that could be the main reason for a quick hook.

With years of NCAA experience, two National titles and appearances in four Final Fours under his belt presumably this situation is better suited to the former Florida coach. Many fans in Thunder Nation aren’t happy with the coach so it won’t be surprising if he’s cut. Nor will it be shocking if Presti waits until the end of the season to make the cut.

Next. Can Donovan prove he deserves a clean slate with the Thunder?. dark

Either way, without palpable growth by the youngsters it sure seems likely Billy D’s days are numbered. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Do you think Donovan lasts the season? Will he get another contract? And, what should be the determining factors for his job safety?