Top 9 First-Year Head Coaches In NBA; Will Jason Kidd Have Best 2013-14?
The NBA's Top 9 First-Year Head Coaches For 2013-14
NBA sidelines are usually littered with familiar faces like George Karl, Lionel Hollins and Doug Collins, but the 2013-14 campaign features nine first-year head coaches, which is the most the NBA has seen since 1949! With that being said, it's going to be rather hard for casual basketball fans to tell all of these men apart.
Thankfully, we have constructed a nice list that highlights each rookie head coach and how they will fare in what will always be the first year of their respective careers. Now, some coaches are blessed with better rosters and situations than others. For example, Steve Clifford's first gig comes with the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that has gone through head coaches like nothing over the years and don't exactly have an All-Star cast.
Meanwhile, Brian Shaw of the Denver Nuggets is forced to follow in the footsteps of the 2013 NBA Coach of the Year George Karl. The reviews on Shaw have been great in the early going, but he'll have his word cut out for him as the Nuggets' fan base isn't thrilled about Karl being shown the door by Denver management.
Either way, all nine of these first-time head coaches have interesting pasts and they all deserve to be examined.
No. 9: Steve Clifford - Charlotte Bobcats
Steve Clifford makes his way to the bottom of this list mainly because he's coaching the Charlotte Bobcats, but his resume doesn't exactly knock you off of your seat, either. From 2007-12 Clifford served as an assistant for the Orlando Magic, and was then hired by the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2012-13 campaign -- if Clifford can tolerate Dwight Howard for five plus years then maybe he knows a thing or two about egos, but I don't expect this guy to keep a job for very long.
No. 8: Michael Malone - Sacramento Kings
Michael Malone is credited for helping the Golden State Warriors turn their franchise around. And he's hoping to do the same for the Sacramento Kings. Believe it or not, Malone was named the best assistant coach in the NBA by NBA General Managers in 2012. However, any coach in DeMarcus Cousins' path usually doesn't have much success, so let's see if Malone can change that or if Cousins manages to get another coach fired.
No. 7: Jeff Hornacek - Phoenix Suns
Yes, the same Jeff Hornacek who played alongside Karl Malone and John Stockton is now coaching the Phoenix Suns -- do you feel old yet?
This was a bold hire by the Suns, yet it has some upside considering Hornacek isn't that far removed from the game himself. Unfortunately, Hornacek fell to seven on this list because the 2012-13 campaign was the first time he served as even an assistant coach, which isn't good news for the youthful Suns.
No. 6: Brett Brown - Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are going from established veteran Doug Collins to first-year guy Brett Brown. The reason Brown is number six is because of the time he's spent with Gregg Popovich over the years as a San Antonio Spurs' assistant. On top of that, Brown was also coached by Rick Pitino during his collegiate days, so it's safe to say that Brown has been surrounded with good influences.
No. 5: Brad Stevens - Boston Celtics
Ah yes, Brad Stevens. This certain head coach won the off-season as he ditched the Butler Bulldogs for the bright lights of the NBA. Now, Stevens is forced to deal with a Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics team. Everyone knows about Stevens' success on the college stage, but he's no longer recruiting and the Celtics don't exactly have a team of All-Americans. Like it or not; Stevens will be the most watched head coach this season not named Jason Kidd.
No. 4: Jason Kidd - Brooklyn Nets
How's that for a nice segue? Jason Kidd combined with Stevens to steal the off-season show, but that isn't going to mean much when the 2013-14 NBA season gets into fourth gear. It's strange to think that the Brooklyn nets are now coached by someone who was just playing for the New York Knicks last season, but it's happening. This is going to be a tough learning process for Kidd, as I fully expect him to be criticized the most out of these nine newcomers.
No. 3: David Joerger - Memphis Grizzlies
David Joerger's first head-coaching job in the NBA comes after the Memphis Grizzlies decided not to bring back fan-favorite Lionel Hollins. It's hard to say that Joerger will out-perform Hollins in just his first season, but it's definitely not far-fetched. The Grizzlies' newest head coach is a former NBA D-League champion and has spent the last five years on the Memphis staff as an assistant.
No. 2: Brian Shaw - Denver Nuggets
Brian Shaw definitely has the biggest shoes to fill on this list as the Denver Nuggets are moving on from 2013 NBA Coach of the Year George Karl. Talk about pressure. However, Shaw is more than ready for his first shot in Denver as he paid his dues as an assistant coach for over eight years before getting his first big break. Shaw knows what it takes to be a top coach considering he was under Phil Jackson's wing from 2005-11 when the Lakers were winning their fare share of NBA titles.
Keep in mind that Shaw was also on Frank Vogel's staff as an assistant in 2013 when the Indiana Pacers nearly derailed the Miami Heat. Shaw has the goods and the Nuggets are in great hands.
No. 1: Mike Budenholzer - Atlanta Hawks
If you think that the San Antonio Spurs have been successful over the last 17 years then you should be a huge Mike Budenholzer fan. This may sound hard to believe, but Budenholzer has been on Gregg Popovich's staff since the head coach took over for the club in 1996! The Spurs initially hired Budenholzer as a video coordinator, so this first-year head coach surely knows what it's like to work for his goals.
In addition, the Atlanta Hawks are a perfect team for Budenholzer considering the team lacks true structure, which means this rookie head coach will be able to cut straight to the core and implement his strategy from the get-go.