Rick Carlisle: Where Does Dallas Mavericks' Coach Rank Among NBA's Best Coaches?

Ross Bentley@@imrossbentleySenior Analyst ISeptember 27, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 08:  Head coach Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 8, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 96-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has been one of the most consistent, yet underrated NBA coaches during his entire career in the league.

Carlisle does a great job of managing all the personnel on his team. He knows what buttons to push late in games to get the job done. He remains even-keeled, unless his team is in need of a boost, and furthermore he is one of only four active NBA coaches to have a championship ring.

Still, often times, Carlisle is overlooked when talking about the best coaches in the NBA, which begs the question: Where exactly does Rick Carlisle rank among the leagues top coaches. 

Carlisle has been an NBA coach for 10 seasons: two with the Detroit Pistons, four with the Indiana Pacers and four with his current team, the Mavericks.

During his decade-long career, Carlisle has acquired a record of 479-325, good enough for a winning percentage of .596. 

When you look at the NBA coaches currently in the league who have coached at least three seasons, Carlisle's percentage would be good enough for sixth behind Gregg Poppovich, Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, George Karl and Avery Johnson.

Carlisle, along with Poppovich, Spoelstra, and Doc Rivers, are the only four current NBA coaches to have won an NBA championship in their careers.

During his coaching career, Carlisle has made the postseason an astounding nine out of 10 times, only missing it in the 2006-07 season with the Pacers.

Carlisle has made the conference finals three times, and the NBA finals once, when he won the title with the Mavs in 2011. In 2002 with the Pistons, Carlisle was named the NBA Coach of the Year. 

When you look at some of the biggest upsets in a playoff series, Dallas over Miami in the finals last year, has to be considered one of the top in recent memory.

Dallas was nowhere near the talent level of Miami in that series even with Dirk Nowitzki at his best, but Carlisle still managed to out-coach Erik Spoelstra on the defensive end, and take LeBron James totally out of that series.

The adjustments Carlisle made in that series are highly underrated when talking about the 2011 NBA finals.

Carlisle has consistently been one of the top defensive minds in basketball. Routinely, his teams will finish in the top 10 in the NBA points allowed. 

In fact, during his career, Carlisle's teams have finished in the top 10 seven times and in the top five three times, and have finished lower than 12th only once.

On top of all that, Carlisle has coached only one superstar—Dirk Nowitzki—in his entire career, much less than guys like Spoelstra and Brown, who have been able to gain high winning percentages in large part due to coaching LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant.

When you look at ranking NBA coaches, Poppovich is an easy top pick because of what he has been able to accomplish in his storied career.

However, Carlisle is right there after Poppovich amongst the best coaches in the league.

Comparable to Carlisle would be Doc Rivers, Doug Collins, Rick Adelman and George Karl. All other NBA coaches are either too young in their careers or too unaccomplished to match up to Carlisle.

Karl has missed the playoffs only once in the last 20 years of coaching in the NBA, and although he hasn't won a championship yet, it would be foolish to put Carlisle ahead of him until he has had the consistency that Karl has shown during his career—and for the length of time he has been able to do it.

Adelman is in the same boat. Although he hasn't much success recently in Minnesota or Houston, he won big during his reign in Portland and Sacramento and deserves to be considered in the top three.

However, after Poppovich, Karl and Adleman, I believe that is where Rick Carlisle slides in.

Although Collins is a brilliant NBA mind, he has been out of the conference semifinals only once in his career and has a lower winning percentage than Carlisle.

Rivers' days in Boston may put him higher up on the list, but he was much less successful in Orlando than Carlisle was in Indiana or Detroit. 

At age 52, Carlisle has another solid decade at least of coaching at the highest level. If he can continue to have success, and perhaps even win another championship ring, he will be cemented among the best coaches in the NBA of this century.