Power Ranking All 30 NBA Head Coaches Heading into Training Camp
Labor Day is over, and while fall doesn't officially start for a few weeks, the trappings of the season are evident every where you look.
Kids are back in school, NCAA Football is on the television, NFL Football starts on Wednesday Night, and October baseball is on the horizon.
You know what else in on the horizon?
NBA Training Camps, that's what.
Yep, in a little more than a month sneakers will squeak on gymnasium floors, coaches will yell at players young and old and everyone will start to get back into game shape.
The real games aren't far behind. Time to take stock, and assess the NBA's strengths and weaknesses. This is about the head coaches. Who's good, who's bad, and who is in-between? Some guys have very impressive career resumes, and some are just starting their head coaching careers.
All of them will start the 2012-13 season with a similar goal. To play-in, and win the 2013 NBA Finals. Sometimes a great coach doesn't have the best team and sometimes it's the reverse.
Which coaches are at the top of the coaching pyramid as the NBA heads towards it's first normally scheduled tip-off in nearly two years?
Only one way to find out.
No. 30: Mike Dunlap, Charlotte Bobcats
Mike Dunlap: Career Record, 0-0
On the one hand, Mike Dunlap is faced with an impossible task, then again, he can't really do any worse than the guy who preceded him.
Dunlap who has never been a head coach in the NBA did have a head coaching job in the NCAA. He was the head man at Metro State a division two school in Denver Colorado.
He led then to two NCAA Division Two Titles in 2000 and 2002. He also spent time as an interim head coach at St.John's last season.
He lacks experience, and worse yet he lacks talent. The Bobcats are coming off one the worst seasons in NBA History. They've made a few moves to improve the team, and they also gained the talented Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the 2012 NBA Draft.
They're still going to be one of the league's weaker teams, do they have one of its' weaker coaches? Based on experience and he's probably a little green to be considered much more than a question mark.
No. 29: Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic
Jacque Vaughn, Career Record: 0-0
Dunlap has more actual coaching experience than Vaughn, but Vaughn has the better team behind him. Does that mean that Vaughn will out-coach Dunlap? Probably not.
Vaughn who has been an on-court leader since his days running point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks has been thrust into the role of head guy on the bench.
Vaughn's experience is very limited, but he's been surrounded by one of the best in the business. Vaughn spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach to Spurs' head man Gregg Popovich.
Popovich is great, but he's also got a great team with natural leaders on it.
Vaughn is an unknown, and the Magic aren't as devoid as talent as the Bobcats, but they're not stocked with the kind of on-court leaders that Vaughn was used to in San Antonio.
No Tony Parker, no Tim Duncan, and probably not nearly as many wins either.
The Orlando Magic are in rebuilding mode, can Vaughn help form a foundation of success for the future, or will his first foray into head coaching be a brief and rough learning experience?
No. 28: Randy Wittman, Washington Wizards
Randy Wittman, Career Record: 118-238, .330 %
Fairly or unfairly Wittman's win-loss record has to be taken into account.
It's not pretty. His .330 win percentage is dead last among all NBA Head Coaches who have actually coached a full season in the league.
Wittman took over for Flip Saunders in Washington early last season. The Wizards played better than their 2-15 start under Wittman, but 18-31 really isn't much to get excited about.
Wittman and the Wizards head into the 2012-13 season with something a little bit daunting, expectations.
See Washington has a collection of players who have some serious talent. John Wall, Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and rookie Bradley Beal are a good enough core to make fans and ownership expect something beyond Washington's annual trip to the top of the draft lottery.
The pressure is on Wittman, and his records in his past coaching endeavors in Cleveland and Minnesota just don't inspire a ton of confidence.
No. 27: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers
Terry Stotts Career Record: 115-168, .406 %
The good news for Terry Stotts is that he probably can't do any worse than the guy who started last season as Blazers' head coach.
Nate McMillian was a disaster in the upper northwest.
Stotts will hope to be a settling influence while also helping to develop the young talent that Portland was able to acquire in the offseason.
The team will feature two first round draft choices and one of them, Damian Lillard could end up as the team's starting point guard.
Stotts is not totally new to being a head coach. He has had two relatively uninspiring runs, one as head man in Atlanta and the other in Milwaukee. The numbers aren't great. His best season was in 2005-06 in Milwaukee when the Bucks went 40-42 and made the playoffs.
Milwaukee was ousted in the first round in five games, winning only once.
In addition to the young players on Portland's roster, Stotts is also faced with another challenge. Unlike in Washington or some other cities, the Blazers and their rabid fans are used to watching decent basketball.
Talented players such as Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge will make winning games easier, they'll also serve to raise expectations. Ones which Stotts hasn't proven he can meet to this point is his limited coaching career.
No. 26: Keith Smart, Sacramento Kings
Keith Smart Career Record: 65-116, .362 %
When you take over as head coach after the season has already began you're afforded a bit more leeway.
So perhaps the Kings ownership will put Smart's 20-39 record in Sacramento on the back burner and allow him to start fresh this season?
Even if they do give Smart some leeway the Kings are officially talented enough to win some games this season, and Smart's overall coaching resume is unimpressive enough to keep his job on thin ice unless the Kings do win some games.
Sacramento has some players such as DeMarcus Cousins, and Tyreke Evans who are both young and talented.
The team also added veteran point guard Aaron Brooks and first round draft pick Thomas Robinson. The Kings need to improve on the court. Smart, who had his best coaching performance in 2010-11 when he led Golden State to a 36-46 record, will probably need to exceed that to remain at the helm of the Kings.
No. 25: Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
Dwane Casey, Career Record: 76-112, .409 %
Dwane Casey is in a tough spot.
He's never really excelled as an NBA head coach, and the team he is tasked with leading this coming season is not that good.
Additionally the Raptors play in arguably the toughest division in the NBA.
The Atlantic Division will have four teams with very legitimate playoff expectations. Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia and defending divisional champion Boston all have plenty of reasons to expect playoff basketball.
Sure the team has made some decent offseason moves. Kyle Lowry could be a very good point guard. The team will finally get to see just how good 2011 lottery pick Jonas Valanciunas will be in the NBA. There are some definite reasons for optimism in Toronto.
That might make things a little more difficult for Casey. After all expectations can weigh heavily on both players and coaches, but teams don't fire the players when they under-perform. The coaches are a different story.
No. 24: Tyrone Corbin, Utah Jazz
Tyrone Corbin, Career Record: 44-50, .481 %
Tyrone Corbin hasn't really been a head coach long enough to be considered either "good" or "bad."
His 36-30 record last year combined with the team's playoff appearance sets the stage for higher expectations this season.
The problems is that the team's ownership hasn't made too many improvements. The Jazz might be worse than they were last year. They're not going to be too easy to coach.
The Jazz added the habitually underachieving forward Marvin Williams and in the process shipped veteran point guard Devin Harris off to Atlanta.
There are other teams in the west that made improvements as well. The Jazz have some tougher opponents and are probably no better than they were last season. That could be a problem for Corbin who will need to figure out a way to squeeze improvements out of the Jazz.
No. 23: Byron Scott, Cleveland Cavaliers
Byron Scott, Career Record: 392-463, .458 %
When Byron Scott first arrived in Cleveland he was give a fair amount of leeway. Scott arrived on July 1, 2010 and a few weeks later his best player, and one of the best players in the NBA skipped town to Miami.
Once LeBron James had departed everyone knew the team would struggle, and they did.
After enduring that first disastrous 19-win season Scott's Cavaliers performed better in 2011-12, but not that much better.
The 21-45 record was still not even near what a playoff contending team would need amass.
This season the Cavaliers will expect to see real progress. The team isn't that much better though.
Yes the 2011-12 Rookie of The Year, Kyrie Irving is back for his second season. The players that Cleveland added in last June's draft, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller could both struggle in the NBA. If they do that will be a major problem.
Just as a good quarterback needs good receivers, a good point guard needs some good scorers. The Cavaliers appear to lack any real dependable scorers and if they don't score, they won't win. That might not be Scott's fault, but sometimes that doesn't matter.
No. 22: Lawrence Frank, Detroit Pistons
Lawrence Frank, Career Record: 250-282, .465 %
Lawrence Frank will probably make it through this coming season without losing his job.
After all, he has only had one season as the head coach in Detroit, and it was an abridged season due to the lockout that kept NBA teams on the sidelines until Christmas Day 2011.
The team is still going to present some major challenge for Frank. Frank has seen his coaching stock slide a bit in recent years.
Frank has shown an ability to coach teams who have talent and experience. His Nets teams were over .500 and made the playoffs. Once the talent departed the record went south with it.
That's not unusual. Only the best coaches can really get their players to play beyond what most people expect.
This Pistons squad could be especially challenging. The roster is talented, but nearly all the talent is either a rookie, or are players in only their second or third NBA seasons.
There's very little in the way of on-court veteran leadership. That puts added pressure on Frank, and to this point he's struggled to excel in those very challenging circumstances.
Perhaps Greg Monroe becomes a coach on the floor? Maybe 20-year-old point guard Brandon Knight matures beyond his years and takes charge of the team?
Frank is going to have his hands full with this young squad which includes rookie Andre Drummond. Handling those types of challenges hasn't been Frank's forte, but he'll probably get another full season to make it work.
No 21: Lionel Hollins, Memphis Grizzlies
Lionel Hollins, Career Record: 158-175, .469 %
One postseason can really make or break a coach's reputation.
Last season Lionel Hollins started the season with plenty of momentum. His Grizzlies pulled off a major upset in the 2011 playoffs when as an eight seed they knocked off the top seeded San Antonio Spurs.
Last season things didn't go quite as well.
Memphis had an improved regular season, and entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the west.
In spite of home court advantage the Grizzlies blew a huge lead in game one, then dropped game seven at home as well.
All of a sudden Hollins was no longer as impressive a coach, and Memphis was no longer an overachieving underdog. They were an underachieving team that lost a playoff series they had every opportunity to win.
It wasn't just that they lost. It was how they lost. They couldn't shoot the ball. Rudy Gay, the team's best scorer never was able to get enough open looks in the Grizzlies offense. The team that featured several very talented big men was unable to consistently exploit that advantage.
In theory the Grizzlies front office made Hollins job easier this offseason. They allowed free agent O.J. Mayo to walk, and they brought in Wayne Ellington and Jerryd Bayless, who along with first round draft pick Tony Wroten should be able to knock down some outside shots.
Nonetheless Hollins will start the 2012-13 season in a tenuous position. It's one thing to become a good NBA team. Once you've established yourself then the pressure only mounts. First-round playoff losses probably won't be tolerated too much longer in Memphis.
No. 20: Scott Skiles, Milwaukee Bucks
Scott Skiles, Career Record: 427-417, .506 %
When Scott Skiles arrived in Milwaukee he took over a run down team, endured a rough first season and in his second year he had Milwaukee back in the playoffs. Things were looking good.
Now as he is poised to start his fifth full season in Milwaukee things aren't so good anymore. Milwaukee has missed the playoffs two seasons in a row. The team made moves to facilitate a playoff push this coming season.
They drafted North Carolina big man John Henson who should help to fill the void left by the departed Andrew Bogut.
The Bucks also re-signed free agent Ersan Ilyasova.
Skiles Bucks' squad isn't a Championship caliber team, but there's enough talent to make the playoffs. Skiles was a chronically overachieving player when he was on the court in the NBA. He needs his team to channel that drive and intensity this season.
No. 19: Alvin Gentry, Phoenix Suns
Alvin Gentry, Career Record: 322-342, .470 %
It's been out with the old and in with the new in Phoenix. Can Alvin Gentry survive? He's going to be given a year to do so.
Unfortunately it might not be enough. After being a head coach for parts of 11 different seasons with four different teams at what point does one begin to think that the mediocrity that seems to engulf the bulk of his teams is not a coincidence?
Gentry took over the Phoenix Suns at the midway through the 2008-09 season. He led them to a 31-18 record and the Suns came back strong the next season. In 2009-10 the Suns went 54-28, by far the best record Gentry has ever steered a team to.
Since then they've been in steady decline. They've missed the playoffs the last two seasons and even though the roster this coming season is almost completely remade, the odds are that Gentry might not have too much time to get things clicking in Phoenix.
After coaching over 600 games Gentry has established a reputation but it's not one that is too great.
No. 18: Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets
Monty Williams, Career Record: 67-81, .487 %
When Monty Williams took over the New Orleans Hornets he inherited a team with one of the top players in the league in Chris Paul. His first season went quite well. A 46-36 record and a hard fought first round loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs.
Then New Orleans went through a litany of financial challenges, They shipped Chris Paul off to the Los Angeles Clippers and gutted the team that had won 46 games just one year earlier.
Last season was everything Williams' first season was not. The Hornets struggled, they endured injures to their best player, shooting guard Eric Gordon who was along with a first round draft pick a key to the Chris Paul trade.
New Orleans finished with a 21-45 record, and then struck gold when they landed the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
That top pick,coupled with the one that they acquired in the Chris Paul trade ended up landing New Orleans the top prospect in the nation, Anthony Davis, and talented shooting guard Austin Rivers.
Williams will truly be tested this coming season.
His first was sort of a honeymoon type of period, the Hornets' terrible record could easily be excused last season.
Now his team has added talent and as of now they're healthy. This will be the first season Williams is saddled with bonafide expectations.
Williams will be expected to groom Davis into the dominant defensive big man that many expect him to become. Williams will also have to blend the talented young Rivers with an established shooting guard such as Eric Gordon.
It's a season of huge challenges for the third year head coach, and by the time it is over we'll know a lot more about Monty Williams future both in New Orleans and as a head coach in the NBA.
No. 17: Kevin McHale, Houston Rockets
Kevin McHale, Career Record: 71-89, .448 %
After the housecleaning that the Houston Rockets did this past summer Kevin McHale will only be expected to win so-many games.
It won't be wins that people will be evaluating McHale on though. He's going to have to insure that the Rockets two restricted free-agent signings, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, perform in accordance with their hefty back-loaded contracts.
McHale will be armed with roster full of young players. Royce White, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones are all very talented, but collectively they've played zero games in the NBA.
After that trio McHale is left with a shooting guard who spent most of last season upset or injured in Kevin Martin.
McHale's roster is an odd and potentially fragmented mix of players.
In spite of years as a top executive and at-times head coach of his home state Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin McHale has never coached an entire 82-game NBA season.
This coming season will probably be his first one, but if he can't figure out how to make the various pieces on Houston's roster fit together then it could be his last one with the Rockets
No. 16: Vinny Del Negro, Los Angeles Clippers
Vinny Del Negro, Career Record: 154-158, 482 %
Some head coaches are burdened by their weak teams and rosters.
It's a little different in Los Angeles with Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers.
Del Negro is burdened by his team, but it's not because their weak. On the contrary the Clippers feature two of the NBA's most dynamic players.
Fairly or unfairly spectacular dunks and Sports Center highlights help fuel fan perception and no team provided more of those last season than the Los Angeles Clippers.
Armed with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin the Clippers are followed, televised and scrutinized. That means that when things go wrong the blame doesn't go on Blake Griffin's lowly free throw shooting or Chris Paul's occasional offensive lapses, nope it gets heaped right on the shoulders of their head coach Vinny Del Negro.
Does he deserve it?
He shouldn't be exempt that's for sure. The Clippers are a great story, but the team must continue to improve and this past summer Los Angeles brought in some more talent.
Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford are all talented, capable veterans. The Clippers are in a very tough western conference. The pressure is on to keep up the defending champion Oklahoma City Thunder and their inner-city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers.
Vinny Del Negro has never coached a team to record better than .500 over a full 82 game season. This year he's got to not just be better than .500, he's got to be a lot better. Can he do it? He doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, but those three veteran additions plus Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups may provide enough stability to get Del Negro to quiet the doubters, for now.
No. 15: Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors
Mark Jackson, Career Record: 23-43, .339 %
The Golden State Warriors started the 2011-12 season on a roll. They won two of their first three games including wins over the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls.
Things went downhill quickly after that.
Jackson deserves a break though. The Warriors had injuries, they made trades, and when they made trades the players they acquired were injured.
Jackson had his bright spots though. Klay Thompson, who the Warriors selected in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft went from riding the bench to starting. Thompson's development is a nice little victory for Jackson, and he will need to repeat that success with this year's top pick, Harrison Barnes out of North Carolina.
The key to this coming season, and to Jackson's coaching success is the health of the Warriors. Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut are two essential parts of the Warriors plans.
Bogut is the long sought after defensive presence that the Warriors have lacked for years, he hasn't been healthy for a full 82 game season since his rookie season in 2005-06. Last season the big man appeared in only 12 games.
Stephen Curry is the point guard tasked with distributing the ball to young players like Thompson and Barnes, as well as veteran scoring power forward David Lee. Curry only played in 23 games last season.
How good is Mark Jackson as a coach? It is tough to say. He gets credit for getting the most out of his rookie last season, but he's yet to really coach a healthy basketball team.
For now he's just a popular, but very green head coach, trying to establish himself in the league.
No. 14: Larry Drew, Atlanta Hawks
Larry Drew, Career Record: 84-64, .570 %
Quietly, Larry Drew has put together a decent little run as an NBA head coach.
Last season's Hawks team extended the Boston Celtics to six games before bowing out in the first round.
The Hawks had a solid regular season in spite of an underwhelming performance by Joe Johnson and an injury to their most critical defensive big man, Al Horford.
Even with Horford injured Drew was able to guide the Hawks to a better regular season record last season than in his first season in 2010-11.
It's too early to declare Drew a "great" coach, and he's yet to really make his mark in the playoffs, but for a coach with a limited resume it's hard to not be impressed so far.
No. 13: Mike Woodson, New York Knicks
Mike Woodson, Career Record: 224-292, .494 %
When Mike Woodson took over for Mike D'Antoni in March of 2012 he made an immediate positive impact.
His first game was a blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Knicks went on a winning streak. Carmelo Anthony started playing some of the best basketball of his career.
As the calendar turned from March to April there was plenty of reason for Knicks fans to be optimistic about their team and their coach.
Then the playoffs came, and the optimism was gone. The Knicks were decimated by injuries, and were bounced in four games by the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat.
Now the real work starts. Woodson, who didn't officially shed the "interim" label until the end of May, has a team that is older, deeper in the middle, and desperately hungry to make deep playoff run.
For Woodson the challenge is palpable. A head coach who has yet to lead a team on trip to the finals now finds himself in charge of a team with two major offensive forces in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Woodson has won before, he set the bar high for himself last spring when the Knicks went 18-6 in his brief stint at the helm.
Now he has to try and continue that success for a whole season, and with a slightly different roster.
Woodson's standing among the league's coaches is one that is very fluid. If Woodson can put together a winner in New York, he'll rocket right to the top.
No. 12: Avery Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
Avery Johnson, Career Record: 240-172, .585 %
For proof of just how important winning a NBA Title is to a coach's reputation, take a glance at Avery Johnson's impressive win-loss record. Don't forget to take into account his record with New Jersey is a miserable 46-102.
When Avery Johnson is given talent he's been a pretty good coach, and all of a sudden he's got some talent.
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez form a very good starting five, and when Johnson has had talent like that his teams have won a lot of games.
The problem of course is that they haven't won the BIG game. Johnson's 60 win 2005-06 Mavericks team made it to the NBA Finals, but they collapsed and were beaten by the Miami Heat.
If history is any indication Avery Johnson's Brooklyn Nets should be pretty good this year, they also won't be winning the NBA Championship either.
No. 11: Rick Adelman, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rick Adelman, Career Record: 971-656, .588 %
All those wins, and no ring. Adelman won't be getting a ring this coming season either. If he sticks it out in Minnesota then who knows?
The Timberwolves do have a ton of young talent. Kevin Love might not be the best defensive player in the league, but he's an elite rebounding and scoring threat.
Adelman is one of those guys with such a lengthy resume with so many wins that he's given a fair amount of leeway.
Adelman made two trips to the NBA Finals as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. He hasn't made it back since 1992, but he also had a very successful run in Sacramento as head coach of the Kings.
Nonetheless if you're an NBA team looking to get a team to play together, win games, and make the playoffs, then Rick Adelman is one of the league's safer bets.
No. 10: Mike Brown, Los Angeles Lakers
Mike Brown, Career Record: 313-163, .658 %
When it comes to wins and losses Mike Brown is one of the NBA's most successful coaches. So why isn't he at the very top of this ranking?
Unfortunately for Brown, he's been lucky enough to have some of the NBA's best players on his teams.
His Cleveland Cavaliers teams were led by this LeBron James fellow. James and Brown even managed to get the Cavs all the way to the 2007 NBA Finals. Once there the Cavs were quickly dispatched of by the skilled and experienced San Antonio Spurs.
Brown's teams have won a lot of regular season games, and not enough post-season ones.
Now as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Brown finds himself with a veritable who's-who of future NBA Hall of Fame members to call upon in a tight game.
As great as that sounds, it could easily turn out to be a curse. The Lakers have to win, and win big this season. Sixty wins won't cut it, the Western Conference finals won't cut it, even making the NBA Finals won't cut it.
It's an all or nothing scenario for Brown and the Lakers this season, and if the Lakers fail to win a title then the guy who will take the fall is named "Mike Brown."
No. 9: Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
Frank Vogel, Career Record: 61-43, .566 %
Vogel is part of a crew of young coaches with a bright future. Just how bright depends a lot on how he handles this Pacers team.
To this point in Vogel's tenure the Pacers have always been known as Larry Bird's team.
That's going to change. Larry Bird retired from his executive role with the Pacers this past summer. With Bird no longer providing a buffer, the focus will be on Vogel.
Vogel has already displayed a very solid coaching acumen. The Pacers have been a very solid and dependable NBA team under Vogel who took over midway through the 2010-11 season.
Last season he guided the team into the playoffs, where they dispatched of the Orlando Magic in the first round. The Pacers then presented the Miami Heat with more than they bargained for, before Miami eventually won the second round series in six games.
Vogel's teams play with toughness and determination. That's great for a young coach, but at some point the Pacers will be expected to be more than just a tough-to-eliminate playoff obstacle for the beasts of the east.
Barring an unforeseen collapse Vogel's job seems secure, but Indiana fans and ownership will start to look for deeper playoff runs soon.
No. 8: Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers
Doug Collins, Career Record: 408-359, .544 %
For Doug Collins making bad teams into good ones is easy. Collins comes in, works his teams into peak physical condition, and them makes them play defense with unmatched intensity.
The problems for Collins have traditionally come once he's established his team as a potential contender.
The Bulls were good under Doug Collins, but they won six titles with Phil Jackson. Collins took over a struggling Philadelphia 76ers team, but last season they finished 35-31, and then proceeded to extend the Boston Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Now the 76ers have added some serious strength in the form of center Andrew Bynum.
Bynum's presence coupled with last season's playoff run should set the stage for lofty expectations in Philadelphia.
Historically this has been when Collins begins to struggle, but maybe this season will be different?
No. 7: George Karl, Denver Nuggets
George Karl, Career Record: 1,074-731, .595 %
George Karl currently sits at seventh on the all-time wins list for NBA head coaches. As impressive as that is, some of it can be chalked up to longevity.
Karl is about to enter his 25th season as a head coach in the National Basketball Association. Even with all those wins and all those seasons he's still never won a ring, In fact he's only played for a ring once, in 1996 as the head coach of the Seattle Supersonics.
Karl's teams are dependably good, no make that very good. They win games, they make the playoffs and they play hard.
They don't win the Finals though. That's going to count against him.
There aren't many men in the NBA who are more dedicated to the sport than George Karl, but he still hasn't been able to translate his passion and dedication to the sport into a ring.
No. 6: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder
Scott Brooks, Career Record: 174-125, .582 %
Before last season Scott Brooks was a young coach with a talented young team that hadn't put it all together yet.
Then the Thunder marched through the Western Conference playoffs this past spring, beating the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs along the way.
It was a great run, but it came to a screeching halt in the NBA Finals against an equally talented, but more physical and hungry Miami Heat team.
Even if you want to say that Brooks was out-coached in the NBA Finals, that run in the playoffs was more than worthy of praise.
Brooks and his Oklahoma City Thunder team are very similar. They're young, talented, and hungry to win an NBA Title.
No. 5 Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat
Erik Spoelstra, Career Record: 194-118, .622 % 2012 NBA Champion
It wasn't too long ago, in fact it was just a few weeks before the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals that Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was being maligned for his coaching ability.
What a difference a few games makes.
Spoelstra enters the 2012-13 season right near the top of his profession. He's young, he's got a talented team, and he's already a winner.
Now the test is whether or not Spoelstra can keep the Heat at the top.
LeBron James is the NBA's best player and is coming off one of the more impressive seasons in recent memory.
Spoelstra had a pretty good year as well. Now both men are facing the challenge of maintaining greatness. It is daunting. For James names like Bryant, Duncan, Bird, Johnson and Jordan are the men whose footsteps he is trying to walk-in.
For Spoelstra it is a little different.
Phil Jackson is clearly the league's ultimate winner, but Spoelstra's boss, Pat Riley has a decent resume as well.
Things probably won't ever be all that much better for Erik Spoelstra than they are right now, but don't tell him that. He's probably got his sights set on another ring already.
No. 4: Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
Rick Carlisle, Career Record: 479-325, .596 % 2011 NBA Champion
Rick Carlisle has coached three teams, and every one of them won plenty of games with Carlisle at the helm.
He won 50 games with the Pistons twice, cracked the 60 win mark with the Indiana Pacers, and has won more than 50 games as head coach of the Mavericks four times.
He also won the 2011 NBA Championship with Dallas.
Carlisle's disciplined style yields results, and those results are generally good.
The upcoming season in Dallas will present a challenge for Carlisle.
Dallas wasn't able to land Deron Williams or Dwight Howard. So owner Mark Cuban chose to stock up on some older and more experienced players in an effort to make one big push for another NBA Finals victory in June of 2013.
Dallas added Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo. They join Dirk Nowitizki is trying to get back to the Finals.
On paper this squad doesn't look like one that can compete for a title,but Carlisle could be the extra boost the team needs to make a serious run.
No. 3: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
Tom Thibodeau, Career Record: 112-36, .757 %
After spending years designing and teaching the Celtics defense under Doc Rivers Tom Thibodeau took the Chicago Bulls job prior to the 2010-11 season.
Things have gone pretty well since then.
Two seasons is a row Thibodeau has led the Bulls to the best record in the Eastern Conference. That's the good.
Two seasons in a row the Bulls have been eliminated in the Eastern Conference playoffs, that's the not-so-good.
In 2011 the Bulls were beaten by the Miami Heat. Thibodeau wasn't out-coached as much as his team was just outmatched. The Bulls had the MVP Derrick Rose, but the Heat had the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. They proved too much for the Bulls who struggled to score against the Heat's smothering defense.
In 2012 it was a different type of obstacle for the Bulls. Injury.
In the closing minutes of the Bulls first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers Derrick Rose suffered a major knee injury. Rose was lost for the playoffs and the Bulls chances at advancing were lost right along with it.
At this point the only thing that has held the Bulls has been their roster. Not quite talented enough when healthy, and not healthy enough either.
Thibodeau's reputation remains in very good standing, as it should. He's one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches in the league.
No. 2: Glenn Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics
Glenn Doc Rivers, Career Record: 546-433, .558 % NBA Champions 2008
One could make a solid case that the best coaching job of last season didn't come from either of the two coaches who led their teams to the NBA Finals.
Doc Rivers came-up big. It started during the regular season when Rivers made two decisions that would leave a lasting impact on the Celtics.
First he shifted Kevin Garnett to the center position, then he started Avery Bradley at shooting guard and moved veteran Ray Allen to the bench.
The moves both paid off, and the Celtics entered the playoffs playing some of their best basketball of the season.
Injuries had a serious impact on the team's performance in the playoffs but in spite of limited depth the Celtics gave the eventual champion Miami Heat all they could handle in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
Rivers' overall record is not as impressive as some of the other coaches on this list, but he's won an NBA Title and his Celtics teams have consistently competed at a high level.
Doc Rivers didn't hit the ground running, he had to endure some bumpy years in both Orlando and Boston. However since the 2007-08 season Rivers has hit his stride and is now one of the league's very best head coaches.
No. 1: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich, Career Record: 847-399, .680 % NBA Champion 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007
There's only one current NBA head coach who has won more than one NBA Title, Gregg Popovich.
He hasn't won two though, he's won four. Four NBA Titles, that puts him in an elite class among all NBA head coaches.
It's not just the titles though. It's the winning, the constant, non-stop, and annual winning. The Gregg Popovich has been winning, and winning a lot since his first full season in San Antonio.
Since that first full season the Spurs have never finished lower than second place in their division, made the playoffs every year, and won four NBA Titles.
The manner in which the Spurs were eliminated last season. Four consecutive losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder which eliminated them from the Western Conference finals, could cause some to think the Spurs, and Popovich's run are nearing an end.
That might be the case, and this coming season will be very telling, but for now, he's at the very top of the NBA coaching pyramid.
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