67RIEFNS No. 55: New coaches

2 Comments

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

In the last five years, first-time permanent head coaches led 16 percent of NBA teams. They accounted for 29 percent of Coach of the Year voting points.

Maybe they’re overrepresented because voters favor the shiny, new objects – and I think that’s part of it. But first-time coaches also have the advantage of working with teams that needed a new coach – meaning previous coaching was more likely to be lacking in quality – and they work without their message already having grown tired.

Every NBA coach is on a clock until his players tune him out. Gregg Popovich is the only possible exception, and we’ll see what happens once Tim Duncan retires (if Popovich stays). That’s just the nature of the business.

So, coaches taking over new positions – which obviously includes all first-time head coaches – are working at the beginning of that clock. That helps.

In the last 15 years, five first-time permanent coaches have won Coach of the Year:

  • Tom Thibodeau, Bulls (2011)
  • Scott Brooks, Thunder (2010)
  • Avery Johnson, Mavericks (2006)
  • Rick Carlisle, Pistons (2002)
  • Doc Rivers, Magic (2000)

Last season, Jeff Hornacek (Suns) and Steve Clifford (Charlotte) drew significant consideration. Even Jason Kidd (Nets) got a vote.

Between the four first-time head coaches this season – David Blatt (Cavaliers), Derek Fisher (Knicks), Steve Kerr (Warriors) and Quin Snyder (Jazz) – it’s likely at least one makes an immediate positive impact. All four already made impressions with their offensive style during summer league.

Which will succeed this season and beyond? Coaching is extremely difficult to evaluate from the outside, and it could be any of the four. I have no idea, and that’s part of the fun.