No movement at the top 7 spots this update– these guys can coach and I haven’t split enough hairs to unseat anyone until number 8.
1. Greg Popovich San Antonio Spurs
2. Tom Thibodeau Chicago Bulls
3. Doc Rivers Los Angeles Micro-Softs
4. Rick Carlisle Dallas Mavericks
5. Jeff Hornacek Phoenix Suns
6. Mike Budenholzer Atlanta Hawks
7. Kevin McHale Houston Rockets
8. Frank Vogel Indiana Pacers
9. Brad Stevens Boston Celtics– This swap is mostly related to the instructive power of just how destructive a force Lance Stephenson is. Neither team is going anywhere this year, and Stevens might be set to drop out of the top 10, but I will have to see how things go and how his system works without Rondo manning the helm.
10. Terry Stots Portland Trailblazers
11. Jason Kidd Milwaukee Bucks– Kidd’s chances of getting these Bucks to the playoffs took a huge hit when he lost Jabari for the year. I still have him listed as “might be up,” but the top 10 us a hard nut to crack.
12. Dwayne Casey Toronto Raptors
13. Dave Joerger Memphis Grizzlies– listed as “probably up”, but despite the fantastic job he’s doing climbing the ranks at the top is slow work. I have a lot of respect for the system he is running and the way he has the Grizz playing, but the work that Dwayne Casy and Jason Kidd are doing in Toronto and Milwaukee, holds Joerger out of the top 12 for at least another ranking.
14. Steve Kerr Golden State Warriors– A lot of ink has been spilled over how good a job Kerr is doing withe the Warriors. To be fair, he also has the most talented roster in the Western Conference by a long shot, but his coaching has definitely made a difference for a few extra wins. He makes a huge leap for this edition, and has the potential to do more, but like Joeger and Kidd, Kerr will find that the top of these rankings are clogged with coaching royalty which will be very hard to unseat.
15. Stan Van Gundy Detroit Pistons– Van Gundy moves up mostly due to the incompetence (and firings) of those (now) behind him than anything stellar he is doing in Detroit. I will need to see a lot more from him in terms of positive coaching to get above the mid-way mark.
16. Steve Clifford Charlotte Hornets– If his drop comes as a surprise to anyone, you need only mention the name Lance to understand why. Controlling talented but troubled players is a coaches purview, and Clifford’s failings there have led to a pre-season playoff pick’s steep decline.
17. Brian Shaw Denver Nuggets– He was listed as probably down for much of the intervening time, but ended up sliding only two spots. Shaw simply cannot seem to make a jumbled Denver roster full of talent fit, ad its beginning to become obvious that its a coaching deficiency as well as a roster construction problem.
18. Lionel Hollins Brooklyn Nets– We can see Lionel Hollins skills in how he is doing with the Nets compared to Kidd last year, and how Dave Joeger is doing with the Girzzlies two teams where rosters from previous regimes are essentially intact. Joeger has the Grizz playing like the Leagues best, something Hollins couldn’t do even with a more in his prime Zac Randolph, while Hollins’ system simply cannot get as much play from the collection of former superstars current wheeling their walkers onto the floor for the Nets that Kidd did a year ago.
19. Flip Saunders Minnesota Timberwolves
20. Monty Williams New Orleans Pelicans
20. Michael Malone Sacramento Kings— (Final Ranking) before his untimely firing, Malone was ranked 20th with a score of “probably up” for the December update. How many coaches was he going to move ahead of? Probably at least Monty Williams, Flip Saunders, Lionel Hollins and Brian Shaw (with SVG also moving up). That means that a coach who was at worst, the 16th best coach in the league was fired before the likes of Byron Scott. I get that record matters, but Malone (fired with his MVP candidate sidelined with an uncommon illness) will get another chance and will be a better coach than quit a few of those still employed in these rankings. Despite what the Bulls have done the last two years, its just not reasonable to expect a coach to win while his MVP caliber player is out for long stretches.
21. Scott Brooks Oklahoma City Thunder
22. Erik Spoelstra Miami Heat
23. Quinn Snyder Utah Jazz– I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the Jazz. After years of stalled developments, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke, and Gordan Heyward finally look like average NBA rookies. This might be a compare and contrast of how bad Ty Corbin was, but I think the former Spurs assistant knows what he’s doing as a coach, and I’ve moved him ahead of other tanktastic coaches in Vaughn and Brown.
24. Jacque Vaughn Orlando Magic
25.Brett Brown Philadelphia 76ers
26. Randy Wittmann Washington Wizards
27. David Blatt Cleveland Cavaliers
28. Derek Fisher New York Knicks
Blatt moves up a few spots by virtue of Fisher and Scott showing how bad they are as coaches. Cleveland finally seems to be getting their act together, however I am not certain that Lebron James isn’t the head coach of that team yet.
29. Byron Scott Los Angeles Lakers– Scott is saved from the bottom spot by the entrance of new head coach Ty Corbin. I’ve watched about as much Lakers as I can stomach the last few weeks. Its not just that Kobe dominates the ball, its that the entire system the Lakers run seems to be designed to have players (Kobe, Swaggy P, et al) take turns dominating the ball, and opening players up for inefficient shots. Add in some explosive Kobe vs. the rest of the squad stuff (“these guys ain’t got shit for me”) and you have the makings of a bad coach.
30. Ty Corbin– Corbin was a bad coach in Utah, who failed to develop a string of promising players, or to put together anything resembling a decent system. He can still redeem himself, but in this place he seems like an ownership patsy, whose basically a place holder for when they decide to put in a real coach next year.