Ranking All 30 NBA Coaches
In the NBA one of the main keys to success for a team is their head coach. Consistency at the top of a coaching staff has proven to be the key to many championships over the years.
From Red Auerbach to Gregg Popovich, many of the great coaches had been with a certain team over a long period of time.
In today’s NBA, it is hard to come by many coaches boasting a similar resume. Currently, only four coaches have been with their team since before 2010.
Coaches seem to be fired more and more often nowadays, as suggested by the fact that there were 13 head coaching changes from last season to this season.
Some coaches benefit from their players, others make their guys better. In this piece, I’ll rank the current NBA coaches from No. 30 to No. 1, based on whom I would want coaching my team today.
All statistics in this article via basketball-reference.com. Stats valid as of Jan. 31, 2014.
Who We Want as an NBA Head Coach (Either Again, or for the First Time)
VCU’s Shaka Smart is one of the finest young coaches in all of college basketball. Over this past summer, we saw another promising young college coach make the jump to the NBA. With Brad Stevens leaving Butler for the Boston Celtics, it has to make you wonder if pro team would have interest in Shaka Smart.
The former Knick great has been an assistant coach for what feels like forever. Ewing is currently the assistant for the Charlotte Bobcats but just can’t catch a break and receive an opportunity to be the head guy. Ewing deserves a chance, and he will definitely get one.
Just when and with which team is the question.
Jeff Van Gundy
The only reason to be opposed to having Jeff Van Gundy return as a coach would be that he would no longer be announcing games. Currently a broadcaster for ESPN, JVG has had his successes as a coach, and it would be awesome if he eventually returned to the sideline.
No one deserves another shot in the NBA more than Lionel Hollins. Hollins was absolutely robbed of a job after bringing his Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals last season. What he did with the Grizzlies was extremely impressive, and he absolutely should get another shot in the league.
30. Jacque Vaughn
2013-14 Record: 12-35
Career Record: 32-97
Jacque Vaughn is in his second year as a head coach with the Orlando Magic and while he hasn’t been blessed with a boatload of talent, the Magic should not be this bad.
The Magic sport the fifth-worst offense in the league and the 17th-ranked defense, both undesirable numbers.
Vaughn’s Magic have shown few signs of life this season, and now more than halfway through the season, they have continued to struggle. Orlando has the second-worst record in the entire league, even though their schedule has been quite favorable.
No coach is going to make the Magic a championship team right now, but player development been disappointing in Orlando so far. As expected, Arron Afflalo has been the Magic's best player, but it has been frustrating to not see bigger strides from Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless, among others.
The Magic have a good young core with Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, but we have yet to see proof that Vaughn can get the most out of them.
29. Larry Drew
2013-14 Record: 8-37
Career Record: 136-139
Larry Drew’s team stinks. The Bucks are absolutely awful. Their league-worst record of 8-36 has them as nearly a lock to have the most ping pong balls come the draft time.
The Bucks have had the 23rd-easiest schedule in the league so far and play in a very mediocre division—outside of the Pacers—but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from their record.
Milwaukee is also the worst offense in the league, with an offensive rating of just 98.0. Being the only team currently with an offensive rating of under 100, it’s been just hard to watch them play.
Their defense hasn’t been much better; with a rating of 108.6, the Bucks are the sixth-worst team on that end of the court.
It’s only Drew’s first year in Milwaukee, but it has been a total mess. The lack of production from Ersan Ilyasova and the mess that is Larry Sanders have stood as two of the many disappointments the Bucks have encountered this year.
Unfortunately, Larry Drew has not done much to help them, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better anytime soon in Wisconsin.
28. Mike Brown
2013-14 Record: 16-30
Career Record: 330-197
Mike Brown has had a very interesting coaching career. He’s won 50 or more games in four of his eight seasons, and it probably would have been five such seasons had it not been for the lockout-shortened campaign of 2011-12, when his Lakers went 41-25.
Brown even won the Coach of the Year award in 2009, after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 66-16 record. Unfortunately, Brown’s solid resume is doing him no good here.
This year, in his first year back coaching the Cavaliers, his team has been an absolute mess. Not only are the Cavs bad, but also they look like they have no desire to play at all.
Their lethargic effort in conjunction with Brown’s inability to develop young players has caused the Cavs to completely fall apart. They have the seventh-worst offensive rating in the league, and though they have played the third-easiest schedule in the league, their record sits at a lowly 16-30.
Brown does not have his team playing with any passion or desire and has struggled to do anything as a coach without a LeBron James or Kobe Bryant-caliber player.
27. Maurice Cheeks
2013-14 Record: 18-27
Career Record: 302-313
Maurice Cheeks came into this season with what seemed to be a team that could contend for a top-six seed in the East.
But Pistons have turned into a disaster. The frontline of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond has not at all worked out, and their shot-happy point guard hasn’t done much to make his teammates better.
The Pistons rank in the bottom 10 in offensive and defensive ratings and can’t seem to figure out how to play together. That inability to play as a unit is partially on the players, but it also is a reflection of the coach.
It seems inevitable that Detroit is going to make a trade, but whom they trade is going to be the question.
Maurice Cheeks is having problems with his team this year and has shown no signs of helping turn things around.
26. Mike Malone
2013-14 Record: 15-30
Career Record: 15-30
Mike Malone is in his first season as a head coach and was thrown into a very interesting situation in Sacramento.
His team has a young but erratic star in DeMarcus Cousins, and then the front office traded for Rudy Gay, who is always an interesting topic.
Outside of Cousins, Gay and Isaiah Thomas, the Kings are not a very good team, but to say Malone has done a bad job would be a little unfair.
Sacramento's defense has been terrible, though. Ranking 30th in the NBA in defensive rating has been the main reason for the team’s lack of success this season. Malone needs to find a way to get his players to commit to playing on the defensive end, or they will not improve.
With the second-toughest schedule in the league and the seventh-youngest roster, it is no surprise that the Kings are struggling.
Malone will need some more time before we can really grade him, but so far his performance has not been great.
25. Mike Woodson
2013-14 Record: 19-27
Career Record: 297-347
Mike Woodson is the weirdest case of all the coaches. Coming off a 54-win season in which he brought the Knicks an Atlantic Division title, he appears to have completely gone away from what worked a season ago.
Woodson and the Knicks saw great success last year with their two-point guard lineup but only went back to it this season once they suffered multiple frontcourt injuries. That has been a bit of a pattern for Woodson, who’s seemingly put together the lineup that works best only when he is forced into it by injuries.
Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece supporting this point. In a rather strange paradox, the Knicks are far better when they have multiple injuries than when they have none over the past two seasons.
Woodson’s bizarre defensive schemes are another issue, especially considering he is supposed to be known as a defensive-minded coach. The Knicks defensive rating is currently 24th in the league.
With Andrea Bargnani out, the Knicks have won four straight games—another instance in which the sidelining of a starter could strangely help Woodson keep his job.
24. Monty Williams
2013-14 Record: 19-26
Career Record: 113-162
Monty Williams was impressive in his first year in New Orleans. The team went 46-36 before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Since Chris Paul’s departure however, Williams and the Hornets/Pelicans have struggled. This year, the Pelicans currently sit at 19-26, which is the 12th-best record in the West.
The Pelicans were really expecting to be good this year. A healthy Eric Gordon and the offseason acquisitions of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday were supposed to catapult this team into the playoffs, but neither Williams nor his team has helped to make that happen.
The Pelicans have to make sure to build around the remarkable talent that is Anthony Davis. The group they now have supporting last year's No. 1 overall pick is not working, and with all the talent they have on the roster, the guy who will take the fall for the team's failure to meet expectations is Monty Williams.
23. Randy Wittman
2013-14 Record: 22-23
Career Record: 169-314
The Wizards have been solid so far this season and currently sit at 22-23. Randy Wittman has an extremely talented, young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but he has been unable to get his team over the .500 hump.
This is Wittman’s eighth year as a head coach, and it looks like it will be his eighth year with a losing record. It’s unfortunate that the Wizards haven’t been able to take their game to the next level, but part of that failure definitely falls on Wittman.
One thing to Wittman’s credit is that the Wizards have been playing good defense. They are currently the ninth-ranked defense in the league and have been pretty reliable on that end of the floor.
Although Wittman has his team playing solid basketball, it doesn’t look like they can go very far; he doesn’t seem to be doing much more than any other coach would do with this roster. The Wizards are destined for mediocrity, which we all know is the worst possible thing for an NBA team.
22. Mike D'Antoni
2013-14 Record: 16-30
Career Record: 444-401
Mike D’Antoni has been extremely unlucky this season. Nearly everyone on the Lakers has been getting hurt, and there is really nothing more you could ask for than the 16-30 record they now have.
The thing with D’Antoni is you know exactly what you are going to get: a high-paced offense and very little, if any, defense. D’Antoni’s teams are always fun to watch—there is no denying that—but how effective he is as a coach is very much up for debate.
While he has been to the playoffs six different times, I could never see a D’Antoni team winning a championship. The Lakers are currently the third-fastest team in the league but are in the bottom 10 in both offensive and defensive rating.
D’Antoni can win games and get to the playoffs, but I still feel he is better suited as an assistant coach in the NBA.
21. Brian Shaw
2013-14 Record: 22-22
Career Record: 22-22
It was long overdue when Brian Shaw finally landed a job as a head coach.
So far he has done a solid job in his new role.
The Nuggets are currently sitting at .500 with a 22-22 record (as of Jan. 31, 2014) but have been far more up and down than their record shows. It seems impossible to predict how the Nuggets are going to play on any night.
Denver currently has an offense that ranks 10th in the league, but their defense is ranked just 17th. Shaw has his team playing some solid basketball, but the team is struggling to play consistent basketball under their first-year head coach.
It appears likely that the Nuggets will head to the lottery this season, and it will be interesting to see what kind of young talent they can add to this roster for next year.
Shaw will need more time before he can be fairly evaluated, but so far he has been the right guy for this team.
20. Kevin McHale
2013-14 Record: 31-17
Career Record: 149-141
Kevin McHale is another strange case when it comes to ranking NBA head coaches. McHale had a winning record in both his first two seasons with the Rockets and is on his way to his third straight this year, but something is missing from his coaching.
As one of the best power forwards of all time, McHale had a phenomenal low-post game. When Howard decided to play for Houston, I expected his game to greatly improve under McHale.
Granted, Howard has still had a very good year and is one of the top centers in the league, a player with his talent needs to be doing much more.
Another problem has been James Harden’s defense, or lack thereof. Harden has been a disaster on the defensive end of the floor, something he was not in Oklahoma City.
The Rockets are a good team, but they are not a contender. McHale has done a good job, but I feel he could be doing much better with the roster he has.
19. Rick Adelman
2013-14 Record: 23-22
Career Record: 1025-729
It’s hard to put Rick Adelman this low with the phenomenal career record and all the experience he brings to the table. But I did it anyway.
Adelman currently has the Timberwolves two games back of a playoff spot in the West, but he hasn’t done much to prove he can do more with this team. Though the 'Wolves have improved each year since he became coach, they still don’t have nearly enough to compete in the West.
The Timberwolves do allow a lot of points, but this is mainly because of their extremely high-paced play. Minnesota allows 103.7 points per 100 possessions, which is good for eighth-best in the league.
Surprisingly, the Timberwolves are also in the top 10 in offensive rating, making them just one of just four teams to rank in the top 10 in both categories, along with the Thunder, Spurs and Clippers.
Though the statistics say the Timberwolves should be a better team, their inability to win close games has hindered their success.
I firmly believe that when it comes to determining the outcomes of close games, coaches play a major role. Adelman has struggled to have his team prepared and able to win close games, and their record has suffered accordingly.
He will need to fix that and get his team to step up in the clutch if it wants to find itself in the playoffs.
18. Jason Kidd
2013-14 Record: 20-23
Career Record: 20-23
Jason Kidd has had an odd season to say the least. After a terrible start, the Nets have turned it around and are 10-2 since the start of 2014.
Kidd, similar to Mike Woodson, has benefited from the injury of a big man. Unlike the Knicks, the Nets lost maybe their most talented player, Brook Lopez.
While I’m not saying the Nets are a better team without Lopez, the team has excelled since he left the lineup. With Lopez down, Kidd was able to slide Garnett and Pierce over to the center and power forward positions, respectively, and the two veterans—who no longer having the speed to play at their original positions—have benefited from moving over a spot.
Jason Kidd has been an on-court coach for many years and has always had the potential to be a great head coach. He was thrown into a very strange situation in Brooklyn but has made the most of it so far, even with all of the injuries.
The Nets and Jason Kidd both continue to get better, and though the Nets won’t compete for a title this year, expect Kidd's Brooklyn team to challenge for a few in the future.
17. Steve Clifford
2013-14 Record: 20-27
Career Record: 20-27
Steve Clifford has been very impressive as a head coach so far. The Bobcats are currently 20-27 and are clinging to the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference.
What has been most impressive is Charlotte’s defense. While they have struggled a bit more lately, the Bobcats are still the sixth-best team in the league on the defensive end of the court.
However, the other end of the court has been pretty horrible. Charlotte has the third-worst offense in the Association. But with Kemba Walker out, can you really expect much more from this roster? Al Jefferson has been great, but no one else on this team is really a threat offensively.
Clifford has gotten the most out of this team and the Bobcats, who have become almost synonymous with losing, are becoming a decent squad.
It’s possible that the Bobcats will make a trade to improve their roster and make the playoffs, but if they don't, landing another lottery pick would not be a bad thing. With the loads of talent available in the upcoming draft, adding a high-volume scorer to this roster would make them that much more exciting and Clifford's job that much easier.
Clifford looks to have all the makings of a good coach, and I expect him to climb this list in the future.
16. Brett Brown
2013-14 Record: 15-31
Career Record: 15-31
The 76ers are really bad, but they are not as bad as they were supposed to be. While that may not be a great way to vouch for a head coach's performance, it works for Brett Brown.
The Sixers came into the season in full tank mode but have been sort of competitive this season. Their 15-31 record does not do justice to what Brown has done with this young team so far.
Brown has the youngest team in the entire league, has been without his rookie center all season long, yet has had his team playing some fairly decent basketball.
It is Brown’s first season as a head coach after spending 2007-2013 as an assistant under Gregg Popovich.
Brett Brown has already done a great job developing his rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams and has done as good as anyone could do with the roster he was given.
Philadelphia is due for another high draft pick this upcoming year, and the thought of a core of MCW, Nerlens Noel and one of this year's top prospects should have Brown and Philadelphia fans very excited.
Brown spent four years playing under Rick Pitino in addition to the six seasons working under Popovich; there is no doubt he knows what to do. The 76ers have a bright future ahead of them with Brown leading the way.
15. Tyrone Corbin
2013-14 Record: 16-29
Career Record: 103-118
Tyrone Corbin is greatly underappreciated as a coach. In his only two full seasons, he led the Jazz to a combined 79-69 record and a single playoff appearance in the dreaded Western Conference.
Even without a very good roster, Corbin was still able to accomplish those things as a young coach.
This year Corbin and the Jazz lost their two best players in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, and the Jazz have struggled as a result, posting a record of just 16-29.
However, after starting just 1-14, Corbin has his team playing .500 ball. The Jazz had many injuries early but have since become healthy. They now are actually a pretty decent basketball team.
Corbin has been very impressive with this team, and it would be great to see Utah put some real talent under him. With Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke all on the roster, they have the beginnings of what could be a very good team. Unfortunately it is going to be tough for the Jazz to keep all of these players.
Corbin is a very good coach, and if he is ever in a situation with some higher-level talent, he will be very successful.
14. Brad Stevens
2013-14 Record: 15-33
Career Record: 15-33
Like many of the first-year head coaches, Brad Stevens was thrust into a very tough situation. The Celtics had just given away basically all of their talent and were without Rajon Rondo until who knows when.
Stevens has done a good job with the team so far, though. The Celtics sit at just 15-33, but to put that on Stevens would be ridiculous. Unfortunately for Stevens his roster is full of overpaid and disinterested players, such as Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans.
The good news is Stevens has done a very good job with some of the team’s younger players, like Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley. He even helped Jordan Crawford look really good for the first month of the season.
Rajon Rondo is back now and Avery Bradley will return soon as well, which is going to mean a fully healthy roster for the Celtics. If Boston can hang onto Rondo, it will be exciting for Boston fans to see how over the next few years the point guard and other young Celtics can improve under Stevens.
With all the draft picks the Celtics have upcoming, this team could become well stocked with talent in the near future.
Stevens is going to be a successful coach in this league. Don’t let his current record fool you.
13. Dwane Casey
2013-14 Record: 24-21
Career Record: 134-181
Dwane Casey has done a phenomenal job with his team this year. The young Raptors—boasting an average age of just 25.5—have the seventh-best defense in the league and the 13th-best offense.
Casey can clearly develop players, as we have seen vast improvements in the play of DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. Casey has also gotten the very best out of his underrated starting point guard, Kyle Lowry.
The Raptors are currently leading the Atlantic Division, even with some of the terrible contracts they have to endure. With DeRozan, Ross and Jonas Valanciunas all under contract until at least 2016-17, it will be exciting to see how the Raptors decide to build around those three.
With Masai Ujiri in the front office and Casey on the sideline, the Raptors have a very bright future in front of them. Casey has proven he is a very good coach and should be around for a long time.
12. Mike Budenholzer
2013-14 Record: 23-21
Career Record: 23-21
Mike Budenholzer has been extremely impressive so far as a head coach. Since 1996, when Gregg Popovich became the coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Budenholzer had been an assistant for him. So to say Budenholzer is prepared to lead a team is a massive understatement.
Unfortunately for the Hawks and their rookie head coach, they lost Al Horford to an injury for the season. But had they not, they were a near lock for the third seed in the East.
Even with the loss of Horford, Budenholzer still has his team playing at a high level and positioned for a good shot at home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hawks play phenomenal team basketball, which is why they lead the league in assists.
They have some good young players, and if the front office can help Budenholzer out a little more, he will lead this team to great success.
11. David Joerger
2013-14 Record: 24—20
Career Record: 24—20
As I stated earlier Lionel Hollins was robbed of his head coaching position in Memphis, but it looks like the Grizzlies found another very good coach in Dave Joerger. After spending five years as an assistant to Hollins, Joerger has proven he can be just as successful as a head coach.
The Grizzlies got off to a very rocky start, but since the return of their best player, Marc Gasol, they have greatly improved. With Gasol back, the Grizzlies have been one of the top defenses in the entire league, and it looks like they can be as good as last year’s team.
The main problem with the Grizzlies is their front office, which decided to put together a roster with literally zero perimeter shooters. Still, Joerger continues to make the best of what he’s got; the Grizzlies sit at 24-20, even after the significant injuries they went through.
If the Grizzlies can get some firepower on offense, Joerger will have this team playing some scary good basketball. Unfortunately for him, that probably won’t happen, but that is not a reflection of his coaching.
Anyone who can have a team at 24-20, while having no perimeter scoring threat and being without his best player for a long period of time, is good in my book.
Joerger has shown this year that he is going to be a very good coach in this league.
10. Terry Stotts
2013-14 Record: 33-13
Career Record: 181-230
Terry Stotts has done a tremendous job with the Portland Trail Blazers so far this season. Their success has been most shocking developments in the league so far this season—all the more so since they are consistently winning without much of a bench to help their starting five.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have both been amazing and Stotts has done an even better job managing the team. The Blazers are one of the funnest teams in the league to watch. Their ball movement and willingness to share the ball are the main reasons they have the top offense in the NBA.
The Blazers have stumbled a bit recently, a few injuries have not helped, but I still expect them to finish as a top five team in the Western Conference.
What’s next for Stotts is that he needs to get his players to commit to playing defense at a higher level. The Blazers have a defensive rating of 107.9, which puts them at 21st in the NBA.
If Stotts and the Blazers want to see their success carry over into the postseason, they will need to improve on that end of the floor.
No matter what though, what Stotts has done with this team has been impressive, and he should certainly finish in the top three in Coach of the Year voting.
9. Scott Brooks
2013-14 Record: 37-10
Career Record: 27-157
Scott Brooks is an interesting case when it comes to ranking head coaches. This is Brooks’s sixth year as an NBA head coach, and he has already appeared in an NBA finals and has won a Coach of the Year award.
The Thunder won 60 games under Brooks last season and are on pace to surpass that total this year. The issue with evaluating Brooks is the talent he has at his disposal. He has been fortunate enough to have players such as Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and James Harden on his roster.
Few coaches have been blessed with this type of talent, but I still think Brooks has done a good job managing this group of stars. The Thunder are always an entertaining team to watch, and Brooks seems to always have his guys on the same page.
The only real problem I have with Brooks is why he insists on playing Kendrick Perkins, but if that’s the only real complaint to be lodges, then the rest of his coaching job must be pretty solid to say the least.
Brooks has the Thunder in the top five in both defensive and offensive ratings and should be around Oklahoma City for about as long as Westbrook and Durant are.
Brooks has established himself as a top coach, the question now is can he bring the Thunder a championship.
8. Mark Jackson
2013-14 Record: 28-19
Career Record: 98-97
Mark Jackson is going to be a very good coach for a long time in the NBA.
Now in his third season with the Warriors, Jackson has shown the ability to make his players mesh as a unit and play really good team basketball.
The Warriors are currently sitting at 29-19, but would undoubtedly have a better record had their glue-guy not missed 12 games. The Warriors went 5-7 when Andre Iguodala went down with an injury but have been back on track since then.
Jackson has really helped his team become a threat in the Western Conference by being able to develop his surplus of young talent.
The Warriors are known as a fast-paced, three-point shooting team that can score in bunches, but it probably comes as a surprise to many to find out that their defensive rating is the third-best in the league.
With a healthy Andrew Bogut and the addition of Iguodala, the Warriors have greatly improved on the defensive end. Now that Jackson has his team committed to playing hard-nosed defense, its ability to fill up the basket on the other end becomes that much scarier.
The Warriors are destined to make some noise in the playoffs this year, and Mark Jackson is the mind behind it all.
7. Erik Spoelstra
2013-14 Record: 32-13
Career Record: 292-147
Anyone who still thinks Erik Spoelstra isn’t one of the best coaches in basketball is simply misguided.
In Spoelstra’s five years as head coach of the Heat he has five playoff appearances, three finals appearances and two NBA championships.
Show me anyone else with that type of resume.
Spoelstra, like Scott Brooks, has definitely been blessed with plenty of talent in his career, however; talent alone does not win you championships. To win an NBA championship you need a deep team and a talented coach. Spoelstra has now won back-to-back championships and is in solid shape to make it three straight.
The fact that Spoelstra has been able to keep the egos of his players in check while having them play such consistently good team basketball is impressive in itself.
Not many coaches can handle the type of guys whom the Heat have, but Spoelstra has done far more than that. If Spoelstra continues winning at this pace, he will go down as one of the best coaches of his generation.
At just 43 years old, he will be around for a very long time.
6. Jeff Hornacek
2013-14 Record: 28-18
Career Record: 28-18
Coach of the Year honors so far goes to Jeff Hornacek, without a doubt. Hornacek has his Phoenix Suns at a shocking 28-18 record in the Western Conference. After spending a few years as an assistant in Utah, Hornacek has made the most of his first head coaching opportunity.
The Suns are in the top 13 in both offensive and defensive ratings and have already won more games than anyone thought they would all season. Coming into the year nobody imagined that the Suns would have the record they do right now, and the fact that they have been winning recently without Eric Bledsoe is even crazier.
When Bledsoe went down, the Suns stumbled a bit, which was expected. Since adjusting to his loss, though, the Suns have won seven of their last nine, including two dominating performances against the league’s top team, the Indiana Pacers.
What the Suns have done is unbelievable, and their future is ridiculously bright. With a number of draft picks and some extremely impressive young talent in their possession, the Suns are in position to become a top team in the league for years to come.
Hornacek deserves a ton of credit for what he’s done with this team and should win Coach of the Year this season without a doubt.
5. Rick Carlisle
2013-14 Record: 26-21
Career Record: 546-387
The most underrated coach in the league is Rick Carlisle. It seems that he never gets the credit he deserves, but the Mavericks are always good with him as the coach.
Since taking over the Mavericks' top job, Carlisle has never had a star player other than Dirk Nowitzki, but his teams are always competing. The Mavericks are known for having a loudmouth owner, and while Mark Cuban seems like he should have no problem spending on and landing big free agents, he has never really done that.
Though he never has a team that puts much fear into other teams, Carlisle always has his squplaying good team basketball on both ends of the floor. This year, Carlisle has been forced to work with the third-oldest team in the league and one that contains a multitude of inept defenders.
Despite these question marks at the defensive end of the floor, Carlisle has his Mavericks at a very solid 26-21.
Carlisle is just 54 years old, and Dallas would be smart to make sure he’s around for a long time. If Cuban can focus a little less on Shark Tank and a little more on providing talent for his coach, the Mavericks will continue to be successful for the foreseeable future.
All the Mavericks have to do is get Carlisle a good enough roster, and he will do what's best to get another championship under his belt.
4. Frank Vogel
2013-14 Record: 35-10
Career Record: 146-84
Frank Vogel has done a great job as the Indiana Pacers head coach and has his team improving every single year. He is the best young coach in the NBA and is among the favorites to win the NBA's Coach of the Year award this season.
This season, Vogel has his Pacers as one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals, thanks to the improvement of most of the players on his roster.
The Pacers have the league's best record at 35-10, and Vogel’s focus on defense has been a huge part of that. Indiana is the only team in the league with a defensive rating under 100—and they are far below that (96.5).
Vogel also needs to be credited with the emergence of his star players Paul George and Roy Hibbert. Both Hibbert and George are two of the best defenders in the league at their particular positions. Vogel clearly has made a huge impact on every player, but perhaps none more so than Lance Stephenson.
With everything Vogel has already done as a head coach, it’s certain that the 40-year-old will be one of the top coaches in the league for many years to come.
Things point to him winning at least one NBA title at some point in his coaching career. The question is will he get his first one this year?
3. Tom Thibodeau
2013-14 Record: 23-22
Career Record: 180-95
In 2010 Tom Thibodeau was finally given the chance to become a head coach and has done nothing but impress in his time in that position.
In Thibodeau’s first two seasons he led the Bulls to a combined record of 112-36, which is absolutely absurd.
Unfortunately for Thibs, he has had to deal with the health problems of Derrick Rose. Last year without Rose, Thibodeau was still able to get his team to win 45 games, though he had very little offense to work with.
This season has been the same way.
Without Rose, it was already going to be tough to win games, but Chicago’s front office then decided to trade Luol Deng. Management is clearly ready to tank and lose, but Thibs has some other ideas.
Even without his two best offensive players, Thibs still has his team over .500 and is proving he’s one of the best coaches in the league.
The Bulls have basically no offensive game, but thanks to their second-ranked defense, they still manage to win games.
Thibodeau continues to face roadblocks whether it’s injuries or trades, but no matter what, he gets his team to win games. If Thibodeau can ever get a healthy, talented roster there is no telling how good he will make this team.
2. Doc Rivers
2013-14 Record: 33-16
Career Record: 620-489
Doc Rivers has reached two NBA Finals and has won one championship, but I was never truly sold on him being a top-three NBA coach.
But after seeing what Rivers has done this year with the Los Angeles Clippers, I have completely bought in.
Rivers has his team sitting at 33-16, and it hasn’t missed a beat since losing its best player. When Chris Paul went down it looked like the Clippers were going to be in some serious trouble, but Rivers has adjusted and has his team playing as if Paul was still there.
The improvements in the games of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are the most impressive things Rivers has done since taking over as the Clippers coach. Jordan and Griffin are becoming one of the scariest frontcourt tandems in all of basketball.
Once CP3 returns the Clippers will continue to get better, and Doc Rivers will be a big part of that. Los Angeles still seems to be one piece away from competing for a championship, but if Rivers can continue to get this team to improve, the Clippers might be able to get to the promised land with this current roster.
1. Gregg Popovich
2013-14 Record: 33-13
Career Record: 938-436
Without a doubt, Gregg Popovich is the best coach in basketball.
Pop has been the Spurs head coach for 18 years and has won four championships. The most impressive thing about his tenure, however, is that in 15 of his 17 full seasons he has had at least 50 wins. The only two times he did not was his first year as the head coach and then the lockout-shortened season of 1998-99, when his team posted a stellar 37-13 mark.
Popovich and the Spurs are on their way to their 16th 50-win season in the past 18 years. They currently have 33 wins in 46 games.
The Spurs were supposed to be too old about five years ago, but their core group of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker continue to produce at a high level. Popovich always has his squad playing great team basketball, and he has consistently demonstrated that he can get the best out of any player.
Popovich takes whomever the Spurs give him and makes that player extremely effective in his role. It’s really amazing what Popovich does year in and year out and it is going to be sad when he eventually stops coaching.
But until he decides to hang it up, Popovich will continue to top the list of best NBA coaches.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!