Ranking the Freshmen NBA Coaches
This year, three teams started off their season with a head coach who was either making his head coaching debut or had only previously been an interim head coach after the previous coach was fired midseason.
When determining the success of a new head coach, you must look much deeper than just his team’s wins and losses.
Other aspects that definitely need to be considered are how many quality players does the coach have to work with when he first arrives, how has the culture of the team changed since the new coach took over and has the coach helped improve his team via quality personnel changes.
After considering those factors plus many more, here’s my ranking of the top freshmen NBA coaches so far this season.
3. Mark Jackson (Warriors)
As a Mark Jackson fan, it pains me to put him last on this list, but I must.
You can’t knock Jackson’s effort, but it just hasn’t paid off for him yet as head coach.
Right off the bat, you could tell this was going to be harder for Jackson than he anticipated.
His first major decision as head coach was that his team needed to bring in a quality center to complement starting PF David Lee.
The team went out and signed restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan to a four-year, $43 million contract, but the Clippers used their right to match the deal and retained Jordan.
After that, the team turned its attention to acquiring superstar center Dwight Howard. He quickly stated, though, that he wouldn’t sign an extension in Golden State, successfully killing any chance of bringing Superman to the Warriors.
With potentially the most talented backcourt in the NBA in Steph Curry and Monta Ellis, it is really a surprise that the former point guard's team is only 14-19 and appear destined for another trip to the draft lottery and not the playoffs.
2. Tyrone Corbin (Utah Jazz)
It would be extremely difficult for any coach to succeed a legend like Jerry Sloan, let alone someone who is becoming a head coach for the first time.
Fortunately for Tyrone Corbin, after trading Deron Williams to the Nets last season, the Jazz are clearly in a rebuilding mode and don’t expect to be competing for a championship this season, or probably next season either.
The Jazz do have a ton of young talent, as well as two first-round draft picks in next year’s draft for Corbin to work with, though.
They have an abundance of quality big men, like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but need to acquire a dominant perimeter scorer to close out tough games.
The Jazz are only 17-19 this season, but they showed they are close to being dangerous once again when they defeated the Heat last week.
1. Frank Vogel (Indiana Pacers)
The Indiana Pacers have definitely been the biggest surprise team so far this season.
After having a losing record the past five seasons, Frank Vogel has his team at 23-12, good for third right now in the Eastern Conference.
Vogel made two huge moves this offseason that put the Pacers in this great position.
First, on draft day, the Pacers traded their first-round pick, Kawhi Leonard, along with the 42nd overall pick to the Pacers for George Hill.
Next, during free agency, the Pacers went out and landed former All-Star David West from the New Orleans Hornets.
These two players have really rounded out the Pacers' roster and have given them one of the deepest rotations in the NBA.
With this team Vogel has put together, I expect the Pacers to be in the playoffs for years to come.