Top 10 NBA Head Coaches And Their Worth In Draft Picks
Top Ten NBA Head Coaches And Their Worth In Draft Picks
Recently head coach Doc Rivers was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Los Angeles Clippers for a first round pick, setting the trade market for NBA head coaches. Yes, that's right, trade market for head coaches. Yeah, I didn’t know that could happen until Doc was traded either.
But now that we all know trading your coach is on the table, it only makes sense that we take a look at the best coaches in the league and see what they might be worth in the trade market.
After all, head coaches can be just as important as players. Maybe not star players, who are usually untouchable in trades, but as important as the types of players who are usually swapped for draft picks. If a team can get a new coach, the man who instantly becomes the face of your franchise for just draft picks, that move can change the outlook for his new team right away.
But not all coaches are created equal. Some bring more to the table than others, so their draft pick trade value should reflect that. First round picks, especially unprotected ones, are extremely valuable. They're the easiest and most reliable way for a team to build a core of players that can take them from a bottom dwelling squad to a playoff team.
But in many cases, it's the coach that is the difference between being just a good team and being a true championship contender. Just ask the Clippers. So those coaches are worth something in trade value, and the true difference makers are worth their weight in gold. Or the NBA version of gold, lottery picks.
These are the ten best coaches in the NBA right now and their trade value in draft picks.
10. Kevin McHale - Late Second Round
Kevin McHale, the long-time Celtic and current head coach of the Houston Rockets, is the role player version of an NBA head coach. He's good, but he's not great. He brings a limited amount to the table, but he doesn’t take anything off it.
He's got some value, for sure there are teams that would like to swap their current coach for McHale and his hall of fame playing experience, but the upgrade wouldn’t be worth much in the form of draft picks.
9. Mike D'Antoni - Early Second Round
Remember when Mike D'Antoni was considered one of the best coaches in the league? Yeah, I barely do either, but the reality is it was only five years ago that he was leading his high scoring Phoenix Suns team to the playoffs.
But five years is a long time in the sports world, and that was before a disappointing stint as the head coach of the New York Knicks and an underwhelming year as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers this past season.
Still, despite his recent history, D'Antoni is considered one of the best offensive coaches in the game, and that makes him valuable to the right team.
8. Scott Brooks - Two Second Rounds
Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks led his team to the NBA Finals in 2012, but came up short against the Miami Heat and their big three. And, much like the Heat, the success of the Thunder is attributed more to the players on the court than it is to the man in a suit prowling the sidelines.
Hurting Brooks' value was the Thunder's second round playoff exit this year. The team's underachieving had much more to do with the loss of James Hardin in a trade and Russell Westbrook to injury then it did to any shortcomings in Brooks' coaching. But Brooks could have shown he was a true difference maker at coach by leading the team to a deep playoff run despite the loss of two of this three best players.
Instead, the Thunder finished right about where they should have. That doesn’t mean Brooks is a bad coach, it means he's an average one. And an average coach isn't worth trading much for.
7. Mark Jackson - Late First Round
Jackson commands the respect of the players because of his experience as a winner when he was a player, and his results speak for themselves.
Whether or not Jackson can lead a team to a championship remains to be seen, but he's proven he can take a young team and get results.
6. Mike Woodson - First and Second Round
Mike Woodson took the Knicks farther in the playoffs than any other coach since Jeff Van Gundy took them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000. But many thought the Knicks should have gone even further this year. They were the second overall seed in the East, and anything short of a conference finals series was going to be considered a failure.
The jury is still out whether Woodson is the kind of coach that can make a team better. Players like playing for him, and that makes him valuable, but he needs to build a more impressive resume before teams are going to be willing to mortgage their future to acquire his services.
5. Frank Vogel - Lottery Protected First Round
Quickly climbing the ranks of NBA head coaches, Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel is worth at least a lottery protected first round pick.
His value shot through the roof this spring when he led the Pacers to an upset of the Knicks and a conference finals appearance. And once he got his squad there, they exceeded all expectations by taking the overwhelming favorite Miami Heat to a seventh game.
In the end, getting Vogel for only a first rounder could be a steal.
4. Doc Rivers - Unprotected First Round
Well, we certainly know what the newly minted Clippers head coach is worth in draft picks. Los Angeles gave up an unprotected first rounder for Rivers, who they think will be the difference between the Clippers being just an exciting team with potential and a true championship contender.
As a Celtics fan, I've seen Rivers develop into one of the best coaches in the league, and the respect that players have for him is unparalleled in the NBA. His experience as a player and now as a coach make him someone that the Clippers can count on.
3. Tom Thibodeau - Unprotected First Round and Second Round
Tom Thibodeau is the best defensive mind in the game right now.
The architect of the Celtics defense from 2007 to 2010, Thibodeau built the modern prototype for an NBA defense around Kevin Garnett in Boston. A defense that led the Celtics to the championship in 2008 and another finals appearance in 2010.
Thibodeau turned his stint as the Celtics' defensive coordinator into the head job with the Chicago Bulls, where he was named the coach of the year in 2011 after turning the Bulls into one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Defense wins in the NBA, and it's the easiest way for a middle of the road team to turn itself into a contender. The right team would give up a lot in draft pick compensation for Thibodeau and his proven results on defense.
2. Erik Spoelstra - Two Unprotected First Rounds
Possibly the most underrated coach in all of sports right now, Erik Spoelstra has led the Miami Heat to three straight NBA finals appearances, winning the last two.
Sure, he had some help from a guy named Lebron James, but he still was the one in charge. And when you're the one in charge you get the blame when you don’t win, so you also deserve the credit when you do.
The No. 1 skill for NBA head coaches is their ability to deal with star players. Spoelstra has masterfully dealt with the creation of the most recent big three, his ability to mold the talents and personalities of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh is a skill that other teams would pay a steep price for.
1. Gregg Popovich - Four Unprotected First Rounds
The undisputed champion amongst current NBA head coaches, Gregg Popovich would be the closest thing to untouchable that you're going to find in the head coach trade market.
The San Antonio Spurs coach for the past 17 seasons, Popovich is the longest tenured head coach in all of North American professional sports. That status alone makes him invaluable.
Well, almost invaluable. If there was an amount of draft picks that could entice the Spurs to let Pop go, it would at least begin with four unprotected first round picks. Even that might not get the job done, but at least you could start the conversation there.