The only bad thing about good NBA assistant coaches is that sooner or later, they have to be the head guy (or at least try to be).
That’s the case with the Indiana Pacers and Brian Shaw. The Pacers have lost probably the best assistant coach in the NBA, although that’s obviously hard to narrow down precisely. Shaw was credited heavily for the success the Pacers have had with the development of younger players like Paul George.
NBA head coaches don’t have five full-time assistants for the heck of it. They use the assistants to work with players to develop their full potential.
Head coaches like Shaw have to find the assistant coaches they trust and go from there. Shaw probably won’t be replaced with the talents he brought to the table for the Pacers. It’s not that the Pacers will struggle because they don’t have a assistant coach. Some NBA observers wonder sometimes if a head coach even mattered. That’s a good point. Good players are good players, and an assistant coach isn’t going to make T-bone steaks out of mush.
But the Pacers will miss Shaw. He worked so well with the players who were hoping he could stick around for one more season as they make a serious bid for an NBA title. Sometimes the absence of one person, even if he’s just an assistant coach, can make a difference.
The Denver Nuggets have Shaw now and will see what he can do in their own quest for a title.