The Golden State Warriors have announced that they have hired former player and current television analyst Mark Jackson as their head coach.
The 46-year old Jackson had a long and distinguished career in the NBA as a player, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1988 and being named an All-Star in 1989. He is currently third-leading assist man in NBA history. Since retiring as a player, Jackson has worked as an analyst for the YES network and ESPN, often broadcasting alongside former head coach Jeff Van Gundy.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Jackson has a three-year deal with the Warriors, and the Warriors’ new ownership group is willing to spend money to surround Jackson with experienced assistants.
Jackson’s interview must have been extremely impressive, because from an outside perspective, this is not a hire that makes a lot of sense for the Warriors on any conceivable level, especially since highly-regarded assistant and defensive maven Dwane Casey was once again passed over, just like he was last summer when the Clippers hired Vinny Del Negro.
The Warriors desperately need a coach who can instill a sense of discipline. The team is loaded with talented offensive players, but finished 26th in defensive efficiency and dead last in rebounding rate, and haven’t had much of a sense of purpose since the 07-08 season, when they were arguably one of the best teams to ever miss the playoffs.
Jackson, who has never coached a game as a head coach or assistant coach at any legitimate level, does not appear to be the man to instill that sense of discipline. I have enjoyed Jackson’s work as a commentator, but his contributions are generally more amusing than educational on ABC/ESPN’s broadcasts. Jackson provides the Warriors with some name recognition on the sidelines, but who buys tickets or tunes into a game to watch a coach?
I don’t want to call this hire an outright failure, given that Jackson is an unknown quantity as a head coach and we don’t know how he convinced the Warriors’ new owners, who seem very serious about winning, to hire him. For all we know, Jackson will turn the Warriors right around and be the next Red Auerbach by the time his coaching career is over. But given the Warriors’ current situation and Jackson’s total lack of experience as a coach, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about this hire.