Goodbye, coaching carousel. Hello, coaching meritocracy.
The NBA, like pretty much every other professional sports league, has traditionally treated its coaching ranks like a private country club: When you’re in, you’re in.
As for everyone else? Enjoy the wait.
Refreshingly, the last few years have seen a surge of assistant coaches finally scaling the ladder’s last rung. What’s more, they’re doing it with the full faith and patience of their respective organizations.
From Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Bobcats to Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, Michael Malone of the Sacramento Kings to Dave Joerger of the Memphis Grizzlies, the 2013-14 season saw a seismic shift in the NBA’s coaching demographics.
That trend seems poised to continue apace, as a number of as-yet-unfilled vacancies—with more sure to come—promise a slew of compelling sidebars to the summer’s sexier storylines of free-agent coups and draft-pick hype.
Today, we look at nine assistant coaches poised to make the leap from right-hand man to head honcho in the coming months and years.