With the beginning of the season on the horizon, let’s take a close look at the NBA’s coaching corps. Here they are, ranked from the worst to the best:
30. Mike Dunlap (Charlotte): It's always extremely difficult for a college coach to gain the confidence of NBA players. His buddy-buddy approach during the summer league won’t work with hardened veterans over the long haul.
29. Jacque Vaughn (Orlando): In way over his head, but the absence of Dwight Howard will provide an excuse for a disappointing season.
28. Mark Jackson (Golden State): Confused. Inept. Should have put in his time learning his craft as an assistant coach.
27. Randy Wittman (Washington): Never came close to having a winning season. Nice guy but a proven loser.
26. Alvin Gentry (Phoenix): Personable, but lacks two things – the necessary charisma and Steve Nash.
25. Vinny Del Negro (LA Clippers): Obstinate. Combative. Lucky to have coached two great point guards (Derrick Rose and Chris Paul) to run the show.
24. Larry Drew (Atlanta): His teams lack discipline.
23. Byron Scott (Cleveland): Arrogant. Takes too much credit for his part as a player in Lakers’ dynasty. Had success in New Jersey only because Jason Kidd made most of the on-court decisions.
22. Mike Brown (LA Lakers): Makes poor in-game adjustments. Caters to his star players. Has been fortunate to coach Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Known around the NBA as the most overrated coach in the league.
21. Kevin McHale (Houston): Can’t hide his cynical attitude. Not thoroughly committed to coaching.
20. Dwane Casey (Toronto): Has never been trusted to coach a good team. Lacks the requisite dynamic personality.
19. Terry Stotts (Portland): His coaching game plan matches what he did as a player: Good offense, bad defense. A perfect assistant coach.
18. Mike Woodson (New York): Preaches slow-down, iso game. Lacks flexibility. Solidly mediocre.
17. Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City): Has great talent at his disposal, but his X’s and O’s acumen remains unproven.
16. Monty Williams (New Orleans): One of the league’s best young coaches. Still learning his trade.
15. Tyrone Corbin (Utah): Runs Jerry Sloan’s system with admirable consistency. But needs to open up offense.
14. Frank Vogel (Indiana): The Pacers always play hard. Rarely gets caught on the negative side of matchups. Makes terrific use of his bench.
13. Keith Smart (Sacramento): Improves every year by leaps and bounds. Open to learning. Has helped DeMarcus Cousins develop.
12. Lionell Hollins (Memphis): Solid in every respect. Diligent, knowledgeable, terrific motivator.
11. Lawrence Frank (Detroit): Works as hard as any of his peers. Feisty. Master of strategy. Deserves a better position than coaching the nowhere Pistons.
10. Avery Johnson (Brooklyn): Has controlled his habitual manic intensity that alienates his players. Leads the league in assistants with seven. Will be blamed when Nets fail to achieve the unreachable expectations established by the local media.
9. Scott Skiles (Milwaukee): Abrasive. Demanding. The Billy Martin of the NBA. But his teams always play hard.
8. Erik Spoelstra (Miami): Very good X’s and O’s. Did a great job managing the team’s gigantic egos. Perhaps the most underrated coach in the league.
7. Doug Collins (Philadelphia): Has greatly matured since Chicago. Has an outstanding basketball IQ.
6. Rick Adelman (Minnesota): Adjusts his system to fit the talents of his roster and gets his players to execute. A winner.
5. George Karl (Denver): Still innovating after all these years – mostly on offense. Has an uptempo style that players enjoy.
4. Rick Carlisle (Dallas): Can roar at refs. Otherwise has a calm demeanor that promotes stability.
3. Doc Rivers (Boston): Has total commitment to his team and to his job. Better X-and-0 coach than given credit for.
2. Tom Thibodeau (Chicago): Excellent strategist. Best defensive coach in the NBA. Leads his peers with .757 lifetime winning percentage (albeit after only two seasons). His genius will be sorely tested sans Rose.
1. Gregg Popovich (San Antonio): Great motivator and disciplinarian. Refreshingly honest at all times. Doing a wonderful job of integrating new players (like Kawhi Leonard) into the mix. As core players begin to show their age, managing to keep the Spurs competitive while rebuilding.
Column, Alvin Gentry, Byron Scott, Dwane Casey, Frank Vogel, Keith Smart, Kevin McHale, Larry Drew, Lawrence Frank, Lionell Hollins, Mike Brown, Mike Dunlap, Mike Woodson, Monty Williams, Randy Wittman, Scott Brooks, Terry Stotts, Tyrone Corbin, Vinny Del Negro, Avery Johnson, Jacque Vaughn, Mark Jackson