3 NBA Rookie Head Coaches Who Have the Most to Prove
The new NBA season tips off Tuesday, and there are a multitude of rookies who have a lot to prove to their respective franchises.
More than the players though, there are a handful of coaches who will be under a lot of scrutiny to see their teams get off to a good start.
No one is expecting the world from these guys—not even necessarily the playoffs. Solid improvement with a good outlook going forward into seasons that follow should be enough for fans and owners alike.
Let's examine a handful of the less-heralded new guys in the NBA.
Mike Dunlap, Charlotte Bobcats
Let's be honest, folks. It's not hard to improve on what the Bobcats were, or rather, weren't able to achieve last season.
The Bobcats were literally the worst team in NBA history last season. They put up an abysmal 7-59 record and lost 23 straight.
If it sounds like I'm being harsh, I am. It's well-deserved. No room for apologists when the failure is so catastrophic.
Mike Dunlap is actually stepping into a pretty decent situation, depending on how you look at it. He's coming in at rock bottom, and the only way is up.
Dunlap will have to mold a handful of young, dynamic players on the team to reach their potential. An athletic draft pick in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will go a long way, and a coach like Dunlap is sure to get the most out of him.
While his head coaching experience in America amounts to a 248-50 record at Metro State (he coached three years in Australia), Dunlap did lead them to an NCAA tournament slot in each of his seasons there.
From 2006-2008, Dunlap was an assistant for the Denver Nuggets. Following that he was an assistant for St. John's University in the Big East.
Then Michael Jordan called, and when M.J. calls, you answer.
Along with proving the Bobcats aren't the joke we all think they are, Dunlap will have to prove he has the chops to be a head coach in the NBA.
Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic
Jacque Vaughn has the less-than-stellar job of taking over the Orlando Magic in the post-Superman era, but he has a lot of pedigree and a sterling endorsement form San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.
That said, Vaughn is walking into a relatively low-expectation season. General manager Rob Hennigan will have to rebuild the team over the course of the next season or two before it starts to think of any sort of dominance.
For Vaughn, it's very simple: remain competitive.
The situation in Orlando may not have been Vaughn's dream start as a head coach, but he's essentially coming in at the beginning of a rebuilding phase for a once-proud franchise.
If he can work well with Hennigan, good things are on the horizon for the Orlando Magic.
Vaughn capped off a 12-season career with San Antonio Spurs playing for Popovich. His first season was the 2006-2007 championship season, and he retired in 2009.
He returned for the 2010 season as an assistant to Popovich and remained there until this season.
Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers
Terry Stotts is another coach that gets high praise from a championship-pedigree program. He was an assistant for Rick Carlisle in Dallas and was an important asset during the Mavericks' championship season.
Perhaps the youngest team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers have a tough road ahead of them. The front office has to afford Stotts enough time to get his program in place.
Like the other rookie head coaches, Stotts will have to build the program from the ground up. Unlike the other coaches, this isn't Stotts' first rodeo as a head coach in the NBA.
He had a stint in Milwaukee before being hired by Carlisle and was a head coach for the Atlanta Hawks before as well. His 115-168 all-time record won't be improving much this season, but if he makes the right moves, it's all in front of him.
With two dynamic forwards in LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum and a host of rookies and young players, the potential and hunger is there. Stotts will have to harness that and make an impression on the management and fans this season.
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