What does it take to be one of the best coaches in the NBA?
The first thing you look at is who’s winning titles, but to be honest Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich have been doing most of that.
From there you must be a winner, it’s not enough to get your team to the playoffs, you must have a sustained history of winning—so that means a career winning percentage above .500.
Career accomplishments and recent success are also important. If your legacy is reflected in your recent success you can anticipate on being a part of this collection.
.705 Career Winning Percentage, 10 NBA Titles
Last year there was a lot of debate when Phil landed at the top of the list but after putting the finishing touches on his second fistful of rings nobody should be questioning who is king.
This year Jackson will have his hands full with Ron Artest but he has been able to successfully coach through adversity in the form of injuries the past two seasons and I don't expect him to faultier in 2009-10 on his quest for an 11th ring.
.675 Career Winning Percentage, Four NBA Titles
Without a doubt Pop is a mastermind of the game and he is one of the few people in the world who truly get Tim Duncan. Popovich has had to face his own injury adversity throughout the past few seasons and he's always managed to make a nobody a somebody when needed.
This season Popovich has more tools in his shed than ever. Many think 2009-10 will be the time when he wins his 5th and final NBA title.
.603 Career Winning Percentage
You may have missed it, amassed the Michael Jordan hoopla but Jerry Sloan's coaching efforts earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame this year. And if it weren't for MJ Sloan would have two rings to go with his Hall of Fame status.
The Jazz faced their fair share of adversity last season and Sloan did his best to adjust, doing just enough to get them in the playoffs. With a healthy lineup in 2009-10, Utah may be the surprise team of the year because they didn't bring in a big name.
.638 Career Winning Percentage
In five seasons the only time SVG hasn't made the playoffs was when he "resigned" on the Heat's way to a title in 2005-06. Last year he made his first trip to the Finals, and his dunk-or-three offense if proving to be quite effective.
I do criticize Van Gundy for how he handled the return of Jameer Nelson, however. He is not the best personnel coach and at times this has spilled out into the media but overall it's hard to argue with his results.
.535 Career Winning Percentage, One NBA Title
It's understandable when people wonder if Rivers' recent success is only because of his players but there is still something to be said for the way he has orchestrated the big names in Boston.
This season will be a true test to see how well Rivers' "player's coach" mentality works—Rasheed Wallace is one of the tougher players to control in the league and Rajon Rondo and Rivers had a small beef this summer. If the Celtics don't make an impact in the Playoffs Rivers may lose some credibility.
.589 Career Winning Percentage
There is a lot to be said for the way Karl has handled the cast of characters he has in Denver. He was able to deal with Allen Iverson, and when Iverson was dealt he introduced Chauncey Billups without a hitch. Karl has also worked to develop relationships with J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Anderson, and Kenyon Martin.
If Karl could get over the hump and win a ring he would rank third or fourth on this list but his one Finals appearance and overall lack of playoff production is holding him back.
.613 Career Winning Percentage
Without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, Adelman proved he is one of the best coaches in the league when he took the Lakers to seven games. This season he has the almost impossible task of getting to the playoffs for 11 consecutive seasons but if he can, nobody will question his ability.
Adelman does prefer more of a surprise attack than when he has to force feed Yao so Rockets fans will still have an exciting season even if the team hovers around .500.
.597 Career Winning Percentage
The last time we saw Saunders coach was in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals when he failed for a third consecutive year to get the Pistons back to the NBA Finals.
The Wizards have high hopes for this year and they start with their new coach who has made the playoffs 12 straight times in 13 seasons. In a top-heavy Eastern Conference it shouldn't be hard to snatch a spot, but will he be able to do anything after that?
.577 Career Winning Percentage
As a player Carlisle only recorded 422 career points but in seven years as a head coach his teams have never had a problem scoring.
The Mavericks have re-loaded for the 2009-10 season and Carlisle should have no problem improving the team's 50-32 record. With Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki anxious to win a title 2010 has the biggest expectations Carlisle has ever had to deal with.
.565 Career Winning Percentage
Ole' Coach Nelson did slide down the list a bit since last year, on any given night he could be the best coach in the NBA but on other nights his mad scientist mentality gets the best of him.
The Warriors look like they will be headed for their second consecutive sub .500 season but it will still be fun to see what lineup Nelson throws out on the court.
11. Mike D'Antoni, New York Knicks, .573 Career Winning Percentage
12. Nate McMillan, Portland Trail Blazers, .498 Career Winning Percentage
13. Larry Brown, Charlotte Bobcats, .557 Career Winning Percentage, 1 NBA Title
14. Lawrence Frank, New Jersey Nets, .510 Career Winning Percentage
15. Jim O'Brien, Indian Pacers, .504 Career Winning Percentage
16. Byron Scott, New Orleans Hornets, .500 Career Winning Percentage
17. Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavilers, .643 Career Winning Percentage