With the Hawks likely starting the 2013 off season with a search for a new head coach, I thought it would be a good time to discuss what characteristics you would look for in a head coach. This comes with the caveat that some of these characteristics are hard to determine unless the coach has actually run a team before. A lot of the evaluation will be done by talking to other coaches, executives, and players about how they interact with coaches. To the media, these guys will give the PC answer as a whole. In private, they are likely to tell you the truth about certain coaches.
Characteristics of a Strong Head Coach
1. A strong head coach has to have the ability to get the team to buy into what he's trying to do. It's one thing to go along with it when you first get started. It's another thing to convince players to stick with the plan when adversity hits.
2. A strong head coach has to be able to communicate. You have to be able to communicate what you expect out of your players to the players, but you also have to be able to communicate to the media. The latter is the part that shapes the outside view of your team.
3. A strong head coach has to be a teacher. There is not one player in this league that knows everything there is to know about basketball. As a coach, you have to be able to teach the player certain things such as fundamentals, game situations, and certain skills the player needs to execute. The teaching aspect of coaching is where you get your player development from.
4. A strong head coach has to be rigid and flexible at the same time. You need a coach to be rigid in his general philosophy on doing things, but he needs to be flexible enough to make changes in his scheme to suit the talents his players currently have. Part of that flexibility also includes changing with the times. In today's NBA, analytics are something that can be used to your advantage as a coach, and you need to be willing to use them and not just trust what your eyes tell you.
5. A strong head coach has to be knowledgeable about the game. He doesn't have to be the best x's and o's coach from a schematic and game planning standpoint, but he does need to be able to teach and communicate his philosophy to his assistants so they can come up with the x's and o's if that is a weak spot for the head coach.
6. A strong head coach has to be able to manage several different personalities on the team. What works in motivating one player may not work on the next. A coach has to understand that he will get a different response from each player based on how he approaches that player. Sometimes, you have to be able to stroke an ego to keep that ego in line. Some players respond well to getting yelled at. Others will go into a shell if you do that. Some players respond well when you talk to them about what they are doing well, not the things they aren't doing so well.
7. This probably shouldn't be this low on the list, but a strong head coach has to be able to get the most out of his players.
How would you rate Larry Drew in each of those characteristics?
Here is a link that I found while looking for potential coaches:
Give Erik Spoelstra the slightest opening and he’ll gush about the impact Fizdale has had as a stabilizing force, teacher and communicator in the circus environment that’s enveloped the Heat over the past three seasons. Fizdale has been instrumental in the evolution of LeBron James’ post game, as well as the feeding and caring of the Heat’s superstar core. When there are new schemes to be implemented or skills to be refined, Fizdale takes it upon himself to make sure the work gets done.
Dave Fizdale is definitely a guy that interests me. There is no way of knowing for sure, but if he is truly a great teacher, communicator, and has been able to help hold the egos together in Miami, then he deserves a shot.
Joerger loves to problem-solve and grapple with game theory, and he has an appreciation of analytics. He knows which NBA point guards, in descending order, reject screens most frequently and understands how to impart that information to players. Most of all, Joerger has an acute awareness of what each player on the roster can and can't do. Randolph won't be asked to perform Joakim Noah tasks, and a unit's collective shortcomings are priced into coverage schemes.
David Joerger is also a guy that interests me. I like his appreciation for analytics, and if the above is true, he probably understands how to read the strengths and weaknesses of his team and structure things around those aspects.
Steve Kerr is an interesting name though. I admit that I thought of him briefly last year but never really considered it. Danny Ferry and Steve Kerr are reportedly great friends, and to be honest, they are probably too close of friends to work with one another. They were teammates in San Antonio at one point though and both understand Gregg Popovich's philosophy.