Assessing the top candidates for the NBA’s head coaching vacancies

111814-FSO-NBA-David-Blatt-Cavs.vresize.1200.675.high.59

While the best 16 teams in the league currently have their eyes set on the playoffs, the other half of the league is looking at making off-season decisions to put them in contention for a championship.

The most important of these offseason decisions is the appointment of a new head coach for Minnesota, Sacramento and Washington (technically New York are without a head coach too, but it seems interim coach Kurt Rambis has the job).

Choosing the right head coach is something that a lot of teams get so wrong and we all too often see teams with great potential being dragged down by a coach that doesn’t fit.

As we move towards the off-season here’s a look at five of the most high profile coaches on the market and what teams they could be best suited to.

Mark Jackson
espnapi_dm_140517_nba_markjackson_wmain

Mark Jackson will no doubt be in high demand from teams with coaching vacancies thanks largely to the success of the Warriors over the past two seasons.

While it’s a stretch to say Jackson is the reason the Warriors are where they’re at today, he has definitely played a hand in it.

During his time in charge he oversaw the drafting of Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green as well as the trade for Andrew Bogut and the free agent signing of Andre Iguodala.

All five of those players were instrumental in Golden State’s 2015 championship and the historic 73 win season this year.

Jackson helped send this franchise in the right direction and teams will be licking their lips at the thought of him doing the same again.

Sacramento and Washington could be the best fit for Jackson’s talents, as they currently have some strong pieces that he could build off of and send them towards playoff success.

 

Luke Walton

luke1

Despite having no proper experience as a head coach, Luke Walton is a hot commodity right now.

Walton coached 43 games in place of Steve Kerr to start the season and while that team is so well drilled the players probably could’ve coached themselves, Walton was still impressive in how he handled the role.

Many assistant coaches would’ve been tempted to try and add their own flair to the game plan in the head coach’s absence, but Walton stuck to what was proven to work and he was rewarded with a 39-4 record, the best in the NBA, by the time Kerr was ready to coach again.

Being a top assistant at a historically great team bolsters Walton’s résumé considerable, as does his two championships with Kobe Bryant at the Lakers.

Teams love championship success when it comes to hiring head coaches and this will be even more appealing for Minnesota, Sacramento and Washington who have all been starved of success.

Jeff Van Gundy

jeff-van-gundy-ftrjpg_10tmp0wka53wc1thu241x9kbe6

Jeff Van Gundy might be the biggest outside chance to fill one of these vacancies, but teams would be crazy to sleep on his talents.

Firstly, Van Gundy brings nine years of head coaching experience with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, including nine trips to the playoffs and a trip to the Finals.

Van Gundy has been plying his trade behind the microphone since the Rockets fired him in 2007 and some of the more outlandish things he says on commentary may scare teams away from him.

They do so at their own peril however, as Van Gundy is a proven winner having only missed the playoffs once in his coaching career.

Sacramento could be a team that takes a chance on Van Gundy, depending on whether star centre DeMarcus Cousins likes him or not.

Tom Thibodeau

6211702 

If you were to compile a list of the unluckiest people in the NBA Tom Thibodeau’s name would be close to the very top.

Thibodeau was in charge of the Bulls from 2010-2015 and was the biggest reason alongside Derrick Rose in taking the once unstoppable franchise back to glory.

The Bulls did not miss the playoffs in his time as head coach and incredibly finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2011 and 2012 despite LeBron James’ presence on the Miami Heat.

Thibodeau’s run with the Bulls was so good that they finished below fourth only once in his tenure, with one of those seasons being his first in charge.

He very well may have a championship ring or two and still be employed if Derrick Rose didn’t tragically tear his ACL at the beginning of the 2012 playoffs; an injury that neither player nor franchise has bounced back from.

Thibodeau’s greatest strength lies within his defensive schemes, which helped the Bulls become one of the best defensive teams in the league and saw Thibodeau elevated to assistant coach of the USA national team.

Minnesota and Thibodeau appear to be a match made in heaven, with the Timberwolves young core of Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine and Karl-Anthony Towns (and whoever they draft in the top five this year) primed and ready to be moulded into a force to be reckoned with.

David Blatt 111814-FSO-NBA-David-Blatt-Cavs.vresize.1200.675.high.59

Ousted in controversial circumstances, David Blatt is deserving of a second chance in the NBA.

Blatt was in an unenviable position in Cleveland, which basically came down to either win a championship or you’re fired.

The Cavaliers fought hard to get to the Finals in 2015 and ended up falling short due to a mix of amazing play from the Warriors and injuries taking too much of a toll.

Blatt did incredibly with what he was given, considering Cleveland’s roster wasn’t exactly in great shape outside of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Washington could be a great destination for Blatt which will allow him to install his system and build a team, rather than be forced into a win now situation where everything he does is being questioned by your star player.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s