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Who Are The 10 Best Coaches In The NBA?

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Who Are The Top 10 Coaches In The NBA?

Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

The NBA may be a players league, but it takes great coaches to turn good teams into contenders.

Currently, the NBA has plenty of really good coaches, and it also has a few coaches who might be better off working in another profession where they can continue to be wrong much of the time and still make lots of money, like being a TV meteorologist.

If you really want to determine who are the Top 10 NBA Coaches, you should factor in all kinds of important statistics about player development, road records, records before and after the coaches arrived, playoff victories, win/loss margin, defensive ability and offensive scoring averages on Tuesdays in February. I don’t know how to factor in any of those things (I was told there would be no math), but I do know which coaches have helped their teams improve and which are great teachers.

Before I get to the list, though, I should point out that if Phil Jackson comes back to the NBA, he will have to be listed at least at number 8.

Actually, with his 11 NBA championships, Jackson would be at or around the top of the list. He may be the greatest NBA coach ever, and is in the discussion for best coach in any sport ever. I know he had great players on all of his teams, but he helped make those players great and turned those teams into champions.

The Los Angeles Lakers apparently could have had Jackson back this season, but they chose to hire Mike D’Antoni instead. To say that the decision isn’t working out well so far is an insult to the word “understatment,” but I think that things will improve for the Lakers by the end of the season. If that happens, then D’Antoni could attain the ultimate achievement by making it onto my Top 10 list. Currently, he’s not even the best Lakers coach of this season, as he and Mike Brown are both trailing Bernie Bickerstaff.

I should also mention that Mark Jackson is an honorable mention to this list. It looks like has turned the Golden State Warriors around, but it is still too early in his coaching career and too early in this season to allow Jackson to receive this honor.

Here now, are the Top 10 NBA Coaches.

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Avery Johnson

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10. Avery Johnson was like a coach on the floor as a player, and now as a coach he is like a player on the bench. Despite his small size, Johson was a very good player and is a great leader. Johnson reached 150 wins in just 191 games, which is faster than any other NBA coach ever, and his teams always play hard and play well. He led the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals and has built the Brooklyn Nets into contenders.

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George Karl

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9. George Karl has won everywhere he has coached and is doing very well now with the young Denver Nuggets. Karl has won more than 1,000 NBA games and is seventh in league history for the most wins. He has not been able to win an NBA championship yet, or he might be up higher on this list. He always makes his teams better, though, and his teams are entertaining.

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Rick Adelman

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8. Rick Adelman has to be one of the most underrated coaches in the league. Actually, I’m probably not even rating him high enough here. Adelman is now coaching in his 21st NBA season, and his teams have made the playoffs an amazing 16 times. He took the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals twice and is a great offensive coach. He is currently turning the Minnesota Timberwolves into winners, which is not an easy thing to do.

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Lionel Hollins

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7. Lionel Hollins is also underrated, and he is doing a tremendous job with the Memphis Grizzlies. Since taking over as coach in January of 2009, Hollins has made the Grizzlies into a tough and gritty team. The young team has thrived under Hollins, and he has helped turn some good players into great players. The team plays tough defense, rebounds well and plays smart, and a lot of that needs to be credited to Hollins. He has turned the Grizzlies into true contenders.

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Tom Thibodeau

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6. Tom Thibodeu has coached in the NBA for 21 years and was widely recognized as a top assistant before taking over as Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls in 2010. Under Thibodeu, the Bulls have become defensive leaders and are contenders every season. The injury to star guard Derrick Rose derailed their title hopes last season and is hurting the Bulls again this season, but Thibodeu is still doing a tremendous job leading the Bulls.

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Scott Brooks

Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

5. Scott Brooks always seems to push all of the right buttons for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Brooks led the Thunder to the NBA Finals last season and has done a masterful job of teaching and guiding this young and very talented team along. His team has plenty of stars, but it also has several role players who are used effectively by Brooks in order to make the whole team great.

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Erik Spoelstra

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4. Some people still don’t like Erik Spoelstra, but he has proven that he is a great coach. Spoelstra is only in his fifth season as a head coach, but he has already been to two NBA Finals and has won one championship. I realize that it helps a coach to have a team that is stacked with players like the Miami Heat is, but his team is not perfect and Spoelstra has had to make numerous adjustments to get the team to where it is. Spoelstra has been under a tremendous amount of pressure as coach of the Heat, but he always seems to be calm and supportive of his players, and he has a great mind for basketball.

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Rick Carlisle

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3. Rick Carlisle is another coach who has won everywhere he has been. His teams are known for great defense, but they also tend to be very smart on offense. He won an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks in a year when no one expected the Mavericks to win. The team had one huge star, several really good players and several role players, and Carlisle should get more credit than he does for winning that title. He was also close to the NBA Finals while coaching the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, and might have won a championship in Detroit if he had been given one more season.

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Doc Rivers

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2. Doc Rivers is a very smart coach who knows how to relate well to his players and get the most out of them. He did a great job leading the Orlando Magic and won a championship with the Boston Celtics. Like Spoelstra, Rivers led a Boston team that had several superstars, but he had to do a great job coaching that team in order to get all of the pieces to fit together properly. He also was just one game away from winning a second NBA title in Boston, and he has his teams in contention every year.

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Gregg Popovich

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1. Gregg Popovich is consistently great and does not get noticed for it often enough, just like the team he coaches. He is currently in his 16th season leading the San Antonio Spurs and has won four championships with the team. He is the only active NBA coach with more than one championship and is one of just five coaches in the history of the league to win four or more titles. His teams have changed players over the years, but the Spurs are consistently good and are always fundamentally sound. Popovich strives to do what is best for his players and his team, even if that means sitting several of his stars for a game in November and getting fined by the league for it, and he always gets the most out of the Spurs. Winning four titles is an amazing run, and makes Popovich the Best Coach in the NBA.

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