Coaching in the league is a line of work that never gets the appreciation it deserves. The best in the business make it look extraordinarily easy, but that's simply not the case.
It's an extremely grueling challenge that only a certain set of people can undertake and find sustainable success. Why do we continue to overlook coaching as a key component of what makes talented teams flourish when the going gets rough?
It's about time we recognized those who deserve to be singled out as the most underappreciated in the business, and it's a shame that these guys don't find themselves being lauded far more often for the impressive work they consistently do.
Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics
I don't know what Rivers needs to do in order to become more revered among certain fans and observers of the game, but he's someone almost any player around the league would likely be happy to play under.
He constantly defends his players when criticism is thrown in their direction. He gets the most from everyone on his team, and Rivers is known as someone who facilitates personal relationships that bridge the gap far beyond just coach and player.
There was once a time in Boston where fans were (misguidedly) chanting to fire Rivers, and I'd bet every one of those people who sang for Rivers' dismissal would have a different opinion of him right now.
Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
Carlisle was recently rewarded with a nice extension to remain as head coach of the Mavericks, a move that Mark Cuban had to make before negotiations became jeopardized by some sort of unforeseen snafu between the two parties.
He knows how to maximize what his players bring to the team, and an understanding of how to utilize the personnel he's given to work with is one of the strongest elements of Carlisle's approach as a head coach.
Although Carlisle's name may not be the first one out fans' mouths outside of Dallas when discussing talented coaches, he shouldn't be overlooked.
Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
Perhaps Vogel will start to earn some more attention in the public sphere now that his Pacers have put the Miami Heat through a gritty second-round series, but this guy is one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the game.
He preaches a team-first atmosphere where only those things that benefit his club are of importance, and Vogel's attitude of not backing down from any opposition really sets the tone for the players he's coaching.
Vogel definitely brings a no-nonsense approach to the head coaching position, and that's critical for him to continue to rise up the ranks at such a young age.
Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets
Sometimes it's not all about the team record, and that's precisely the case with Williams in New Orleans.
He gets his team to compete hard for him for all 48 minutes every single night the Hornets take the floor, and that's saying something special about Williams considering the current transition his team is going through.
Williams should continue to succeed as he gets more talent on the roster, and there's no doubt he'll continue to be more respected as more talent evaluators get to see how this guy gets his players to rally around one common goal: winning.
Stan Van Gundy, Unemployed
It's fairly remarkable that the guy most responsible for transforming Dwight Howard into the player he is today just got shown the door in Orlando, but that's not going to prevent him from finding another job.
One of the best free agents on the open market now that he's been relieved of his duties for the Magic, Van Gundy will have an immediate impact wherever he may land next.
He's a great thinker and knows how to approach the game at both ends of the floor.
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