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Coaches in the NBA rarely get the admiration and recognition that the players get. With that said, many of the successful franchises in the league today would not be where they are without superior coaching. So let’s break down the 5 best coaches in the NBA today.
5. Rick Carlisle
Although Dallas may have struggled the last year and a half, there’s no doubting Carlisle’s effect on the Mavericks and the league as a whole. In his 15 full seasons as a head coach, Carlisle has compiled 420 total wins and has made the playoffs in all but 2 seasons. In 2011 he made history when he coached the Mavs through one of the more improbable playoff runs in history en route to the franchise’s first and only NBA championship. His long-tenured success and ability to get the most out of his players are what have earned him a spot on this list.
4. Steve Kerr
Since his first season as a head coach at the start of the 2014-15 season, Kerr has led the Golden State Warriors to the highest winning percentage in the league in those 3 years at .841 (84%). It’s pretty hard to argue that anyone has had a better 3-year run to start a coaching career than Kerr, considering he’s racked up 2 NBA titles and coached a team that set the record for most games ever won in a season. With guys like Durant, Curry, and Thompson on his roster, some would argue that anyone can win with that kind of talent at their disposal. But this is not always the case, and Kerr has done a fantastic job of getting his stars to play together, control egos, and manage minutes to keep his squad healthy come playoff time.
3. Erik Spoelstra
Since Pat Riley stepped down as head coach in 2008, coach Spo has built the Heat into a consistent winner and playoff contender. After signing LeBron James as a free agent in 2010, he managed a star-studded team to near perfection and reached 4 straight NBA Finals, winning 2 championships. Since LeBron’s departure, Spoelstra has kept the Heat relevant and in playoff contention every year. Last year, after a rough 11-30 start to the season, he helped right the ship and Miami went 30-11 in the second half of the season, narrowly missing the playoffs. With Spoelstra at the helm, the Heat will always be a threat in the East.
2. Brad Stevens
After taking over the Celtics in 2013, Stevens has created a situation in Boston that looked unlikely at best. He took a team of mostly role players and misfits and transformed them into a perennial power in the league. When he chose to make the jump from coaching college basketball at Butler to coaching in the NBA, many critics doubted him and questioned whether his success would translate to the professional ranks. But he has proven them all wrong. In Stevens’ first season as an NBA head coach, the Celtics went 25-57. Since then, their record has improved each season, and last season Boston earned the #1 seed in the East over the defending champion Cavaliers. This season, they sit at 25-7 with a 16-game winning streak to their name, all while retaining the top spot in the East. In his first 4 seasons, Stevens showed that he can coach teams to win without needing big name talents. With the addition of Kyrie Irving this summer, Stevens has all he needs to make a run at a championship.
1. Gregg Popovich
There’s no denying Popovich’s greatness as a coach. When he became the Spurs head coach in 1996 it was just another coaching change, and now most teams would kill to have him as their coach. With 5 NBA titles and 1,157 wins under his belt, his numbers speak for themselves, and he remains the best coach in the league today because of the incredible culture he has created in San Antonio. Popovich is a master of getting a group of guys to put their egos to the side, and buy in to playing together and sacrificing for the good of the team. He did this for 19 years with Tim Duncan at the helm, always making sure players had “gotten over themselves” and were committed to the larger goal. Pop has always been skilled at developing talent and getting players to grow and evolve. Look no further than Kawhi Leonard, who has become Pop’s next superstar and on-court leader.
By: Will Eudy