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Ten Things About the NBA: Top Ten Coaches!

Phil has his own top ten coaches list.....and who he has on there and who he omits might surprise you!

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NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of weeks ago ESPN came out with a NBA Coaches Ratings list. I don’t ordinarily spend my time ranking NBA players let alone NBA coaches but this list seems a bit dodgy to me.

What in the world possessed ESPN to rank Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens number 3?

Now I do understand the Stevens fascination; a successful career at Butler University followed by his Celtics getting progressively better each regular season is definitely eye catching.

I fail to see how any of these noteworthy things place Stevens above names like Eric Spoelstra or Rick Carlisle but let’s face it; ESPN is more an entertainment network than a knowledgeable sports outlet so that’s to be expected.

Guess the experts hadn’t realized their wonder boy and his band of merry Celtics were 2-6 in the playoffs. Now their record is 2-8 during the first round of playoff games under Stevens’ tutelage.

That in itself should eliminate Stevens from the top ten let alone the top five, shouldn’t it?

So I decided to come up with my own list and ranked MY top five coaches currently coaching in the NBA.

1). Gregg Popovich

Do I really have to explain this one to you? I didn’t think so.

2). Rick Carlisle

600 plus wins in the NBA should account for something, shouldn’t it? How about coaching a team many considered overachievers and defeating a heavily favored Miami Heat team to win the 2011 NBA Championship? Those are just a couple of his many accomplishments including NBA Coach of the Year in 2002.

3). Eric Spoelstra

Spoelstra gets no love. Okay; he does get a top five nod from ESPN so at least this panel were somewhat thinking clearly. Spoelstra has coached a couple of NBA Championship squads during his tenure. You’d think after putting up with passive aggressive whiners like LeBron James trying to get him fired and whatever crap Dwayne Wade pulled in the locker-room he would have rated higher than Stevens.

After the job he did this season with his Heat team beginning the season at 11-21 and finishing at .500 is NBA Coach of the Year type of stuff. Certainly top three worthy to me.

4). Terry Stotts

Imagine being the coach of an NBA team and your General Manager allows five of your top six scorers to take their talents elsewhere. Then imagine you are stuck with a basketball team with a player who whined on Twitter when he didn’t make the All-Star team and a diminutive injury prone shooting guard? Throw in a bunch of castaways and you wind up reaching the Western Conference Semi-Finals?

Who does that?

Terry Stotts that’s who.

Not only did he take that team to those lofty heights but somehow found a way to reach the playoffs again this season. To me that is worth more than a tie for 14th with Billy Donovan and Mike Malone.

5). Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr walked into a pretty good situation. The Warriors were previously coached by Mark Jackson who taught those kids the importance of defense. He lucked out when David Lee was injured so he really didn’t have a hard time convincing Lee that Draymond Green and the small ball “Death Lineup” was the better option.

Even though his Warriors team went on to win 73 games he missed a considerable amount of time away from the sideline and when he did return the team wound up coming back from a 1-3 deficit to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder only then to get shafted by the NBA blow a 3-1 lead and fail to repeat as NBA Champion.

Winning that unlikely Title in 2015 AND 73 wins in 2016 is good for a top five rating in my book.

And the remaining five Head Coaches in no particular order;

Mike Budenholzer

I really wanted to rate him higher but since the 60 win season his Hawks teams have regressed in wins; they have also regressed defensively and the ball movement the Hawks were known for during the Budenholzer era is rarely seen these days and a far cry from what it was.

Budenholzer is not only the coach but also President of Basketball Operations and presumably he is the one that makes the personnel decisions so it’s on him to either fix the mess he’s made or move on.

Still; that undefeated January matters to me and this is the only reason he made my list.

Fred Hoiberg

How he is labeled the worst coach in the NBA is beyond me. Especially when you consider Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Brett Brown is somehow still coaching in the NBA.

Granted, the ratings were made prior to the playoffs but as anyone with two eyeballs and one or two active working brain cells can see he is clearly out-coaching wonder boy Stevens in the first round of the playoffs.

Tyron Lue LeBron James

Usually when a Head Coach publicly criticizes the Front Office publicly in regards to player personnel they find themselves on the outside looking in.

Usually when a Head Coach whines about the officiating they get whacked with a big fine by the NBA.

Not when the Head Coach is LeBron James it doesn’t. James whined publicly about Draymond Green and Green found himself suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

James whined publicly about needing a “playmaker” and puppet master GM David Griffin went out and did what the coach wanted.

Anyone that has that much cache in the League is DEFINITELY worthy of making this list.

Scott Brooks

I was very hard on Brooks when coached the Oklahoma City Thunder but probably Steve Kerr can attest to this but coaching Mr. Unreliable probably isn’t always a Sunday walk in the park so I stopped.

Presumably Brooks was hired in order to possibly entice Mr. Unreliable to sign with Washington. That didn’t work out but Brooks sure did and after a rocky start to the season Washington turned out to be one of the best if not THE best team in the Eastern Conference.

Next time you watch Washington watch how the players respond to Brooks during a timeout. All eyes are on him and all mouths are closed. That’s the sign of a team that trusts and respects their coach.

David Fizdale

How does a rookie head coach make this list?

For starters he was wise enough to convince Zach Randolph to move from a starting role to a bench role. Then he was wise enough to give Marc Gasol the green light to shoot the triple. What tipped the scales for me was when he went off on the referees after Game Two.

Take that for data!