Throughout the courting of David Blatt, David Pick, senior correspondent at Eurobasket.com and ONE.co.il, had been one of the most reliable sources for information and breaking news regarding Blatt's decision making. I reached out to Mr. Pick to ask a few questions in order to gain some insight on the Cavs newest head coach.
Fear The Sword: The amount of support/ well wishes that have come from fans overseas over this hire has been incredible. What is it about Blatt that makes him so endearing to fans?
David Pick: Blatt is a people's person. It's that simple. He's probably the most approachable guy in sports. I can recall looking back at times when Blatt and I would leave Nokia Arena following a Euroleague games at 1AM and a mob of fans would come stampeding our way for photo-opts and autographs of Blatt. He would never turn anyone down. He's a guy you want to cheer for.
Fear The Sword: David Blatt has had an incredible amount of success so far in his coaching career. You obviously don't have that type of consistent success without adapting. Is Blatt known as a coach that adjusts his game plan/ offense to suit his roster? Or does he seek out players that fit his system?
David Pick: He obviously scouts for the right guys to fit his system and style of play/pace – which is – open court, fastbreak, pick-and-roll. You won't find a single player on Blatt's team that is limited to one facet of the game. He needs his bigs to be able to stretch and shoot – that’s a must with all of 4 men and fair share of his 5 men. Andrea Zizic, David Blu, Devin Smith, Joe Ingles, Milan Macvan, Nick Caner-Medley have all played the 4-5 spot and can knock down from mid-range to deep. He needs versatile players because he loves going "small ball" at times so any (smart) point-forward who can push it up and has a wet jumper is on Blatt's list.
Fear The Sword: Looking at the scoring distribution of Maccabi Tel Aviv, noticed there didn't appear to be any one player that shouldered the scoring load. Has David Blatt coached a roster with a star/ feature player, and if so, what was that relationship like?
David Pick: Probably his biggest stars this coaching era were Keith Langford – the No. 1 scorer in Europe's top competition, the Euroleague. Jeremy Pargo, a top Euro-scoring combo-guard who played for three different teams in the NBA and is one of the highest paid American athletes in Europe. And Maccabi SG Ricky Hickman. All scoring guards who for the most part did their job of scoring and putting up points but within a system. In games where they didn’t score, it probably wasn’t felt because Blatt had multiple guys who can spark on any given night. He had one guy this year, David Blu, one of the top shooters in the world outside the NBA, but not a scoring machine. This season, whenever Blu would finish as top-scorer (I'm talking 12-15 points, not 20-30 per), Maccabi had a perfect record. Not sure the exact number but something around 7-0. He has great relationships with all players. Blu is retiring, Langford, Pargo and Hickman all financially beyond Blatt's reach in Europe but wish they could play for him again.
Fear The Sword: What would you say are the strongest and weakest parts of Blatt's coaching ability.
David Pick: His offensive game is probably his strong side, known as a brilliant offensive-minded coach. Weaknesses? That's a tough Q. Sometimes his attention span for players is short and he goes to shorter rotations. Causes guys to lose confidence.
Fear The Sword: What's your favorite moment/ memory from your time following Blatt's coaching career.
David Pick: My favorite moment and/or memory of Blatt was about a month ago when I interviewed him for over an hour ahead of the Euroleague final four in Milan. He told me it was one the most enjoyable and greatest interviews he's ever had. Said it was awesome and that I did a great job. Linkage to intrv here: http://www.eurobasket.com/
Also when we both were champagne-showered after winning the Israeli championship (Here's me getting splashed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
On a professional note I think the weekend in mid-May in Milan when Maccabi beat heavy favorites CSKA Moscow, then Real Madrid to win the Euroleague title was my most fond memory of David. Obviously, one of Blatt's most amusing moments was when he was caught (twice) on camera cursing out his players (See YouTube).
I really appreciate David taking the time to answer these questions and I can't help but get even more excited over what David Blatt will bring to the Cavaliers.