The Coaches Get a Report Card: Grading All 30 NBA Sideline Chiefs

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The Coaches Get a Report Card: Grading All 30 NBA Sideline Chiefs

Pro basketball players are often handed graded performance reviews by columnists and analysts. What about the sideline bosses who tell them what play or offense to run and how to run it?

Those guys should get report cards, too. Some fail at the job worse than Mel Gibson does at his family life, while others prosper in the face of adversity and undue stress.

What constitutes superb coaching varies as much as the landscapes, skylines, and populations of the NBA's 28 markets. Some rosters require a micromanaging hardass whose style resembles Arlee Armee.

Sometimes, a franchise can even justify hiring the equivalent of Major Payne. Some of the best coaches, though, avoid the spoon fed diet and encourage players to police their own consumption habits.

An NBA coach must determine what leadership method works best for his unit. He must also design offensive and defensive schemes that maximize his players' talents and strengths and guard, as best as possible, their weaknesses.

While assistants may develop specific areas of a player's game or install the preferred offense, the head honcho decides whether his versatile guard-forward should occupy most minutes at the two or three spot.

He gets final say on timeout frequency and how each huddle is conducted.

Hoops execs ask coaches to make the most of their shoddy or spectacular work. Owners celebrate unexpected successes with contract extensions and miserable failures with early terminations.

The coaching carousel rides more than it stops. Even Donald Trump could not keep up with the number of owners who deliver the dreaded "you're fired" pink slip each year.

Coaches often get too little credit and too much blame. If disaster unfolds within a franchise, the helpless coach always gets the axe before the multi-million dollar earning player whose egotism or underachievement wrecked the ship. The captains, in this case, can replace navigators much easier than ship mates.

Or so these CEOs think.

Meeting an expectation can prove more difficult than exceeding one. No NBA-level coach has ever won a title or anything else of merit with crappy ballers.

All great coaches need great players to hoist championship trophies. Not all coaches can win with great players.

With the above primer in mind, I decided to place each of the 30 sideline chiefs into one of six categories.

THE INCOMPLETE category includes recent hires with no lead experience. They have not done anything that merits a grade. New Orleans' new bench boss Monty Williams, for example, cut his teeth as a player and then a primo assistant. No one can judge his head coaching faculty before he tackles the job this fall.

This report card does not speculate on what a coach might do. I prefer to examine a bench boss's track record over guesswork. Williams, and a few others, have yet to establish one.

Those in the FLUNK EM' category should be shown the door before they can cash their next paycheck.

The MIDDLING ASSISTANTS deserve their own category, since they often snag the roughest, most unattractive jobs.

The AVERAGE JOES survive thanks to their sheer mediocrity. Results may vary.

The B-LISTERS are A-ok. They get the job done, sometimes under the toughest of circumstances, and merit praise for their reliable efforts.

The A-LISTERS comprise the creme of the crop. These guys can boast limitless job security for a reason.

In which category does your team's coach fall?

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