Found July 29, 2012 on Pass The Pill:
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Greg Popovich & Tony Parker – Photo Credit: Tiago Hammil Imagine having a job where all of your employees made more money than you. The best of your employees has more power and influence within the organization. Your subordinates also have guaranteed contracts, which means that you can’t fire them for poor performance (well you could, but you will still have to pay them). On top of all of that, part of your job is to be the scapegoat and fall guy for the entire organization if things don’t go so well, whether it’s your fault or not. Doesn’t sound like a dream job, does it? Well, this is the life of an NBA Head Coach. There are only 29 head coaching positions in the NBA (some would argue that there are actually 30, but I’m not counting the Bobcats) and 4,876,135 people that dream of someday having one of those coveted jobs. Needless to say, this is an extremely difficult job to get and an even more difficult job to keep. The average tenure of an NBA head coach is roughly 3 years. This means that every three years nearly every team in the league has changed coaches. Take a second and think about your favorite team. Do they have the same coach that they had three years ago? The average NBA coach may only last three years, but the truly great ones stand the test of time. Coaches like Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Red Auerbach, and Pat Riley became legends because they figured out a way to have long term success in a league that tosses coaches out like yesterday’s trash if they have a five game losing streak. To be successful as an NBA coach, one must be able to manage superstar players with gigantic egos, convince role players to play their roles, devise strategies and schemes that maximize the ability of the team, and convince the team to play harder and smarter than their opponents on a nightly basis. Let’s take a look at the coaches who stand head and shoulders above their peers in the game today.   #1 Greg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) He may have less personality than Tim Duncan, but Greg Popovich has led the San Antonio Spurs to four NBA Championships since 1999. That accomplishment in itself is enough to ensure that he will someday be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. What’s just as remarkable as the four titles is the fact that Popovich has led the Spurs to the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons. While Popovich has been extremely fortunate to have the greatest power forward in NBA history (Tim Duncan) during this entire run, he has had to constantly adjust the pieces that have surrounded Duncan. Popovich won his first title with a core of players that included David Robinson, Avery Johnson, and Sean Elliot. As those players moved on to retirement, Popovich replaced them with the likes of Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Neither Parker or Ginobili were “can’t miss” lottery picks coming into the league. Parker was the 28th overall pick in the 2001 draft, and Ginobli wasn’t picked until the 57th selection of the 1999 draft, yet Popovich was able to quickly figure out ways to exploit their strengths and make them NBA stars. Their current core of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili has been surrounded by a rotating cast of supporting players that always seem to the specific roles needed by the team. Duncan is certainly getting close to retirement, but as long as Pop is around the Spurs will always be a legit contender each and every year.   #2 Doc Rivers (Boston Celtics) What do you get when you combine a defensive minded superstar who never wants to be considered the first option on offense, a shoot first, second, and third drama queen of a small forward who doesn’t believe in playing defense, the greatest shooter in NBA history (whose play is better when playing off the ball than when he has to create his own shot), and A young, brash, and creative point guard  who sees the court better than anyone in NBA history but has an ego that makes Kobe Bryant seem humble? When Doc Rivers is the coach you get an NBA champion. Doc Rivers has been absolutely masterful with the Boston Celtics. He has led them to an NBA Championship, and another NBA Finals appearance in which they lost. Doc may have done his best coaching job to date in the 2011-2012 season despite missing the Finals. In a lockout shortened season when nearly every key player in the rotation missed games at some point due to injury, Rivers found a way to get this team to the Eastern Conference Finals. During their post-season run players such as Ryan Hollins, Greg Stiemsma, and Marquis Daniels were being counted on in key minutes, yet they still made a deep playoff run. The bottom line is that the 2011-2012 Boston Celtics (that were under .500 at the all-star break) had no business making it to the Conference Finals. But the brilliant coaching of Doc Rivers and the phenomenal and consistent play of Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo made sure that they were still viable contenders even though everything else that could have gone wrong this past season, indeed did.   #3 George Karl (Denver Nuggets) We really can’t hold the fact that George Karl hasn’t won a championship against him, simply because he has never had a team talented enough to win one. Well he did lead the 1995-1996 Seattle SuperSonics to the NBA Finals where they faced Michael Jordan’s Bulls, so we all know that they didn’t really have a chance of winning that series. Karl knows basketball and knows how to get his teams to play the right way. Only Karl could lose a superstar the caliber of Carmelo Anthony and not get anything close to his talent back, yet improve the team. If you look at the Nuggets roster today, it is obvious that the whole is definitely better than the sum of their parts. Under Karl’s tutelage Ty Lawson has become a better than average point guard, and Danilo Gallinari is on the verge of becoming a star. Arron Afflalo and Kenneth Faried are also much better players than anyone ever thought they’d be at this point in their young careers. When players play for Karl they have a tendency to play above their natural abilities. As further proof of his greatness, I am willing to bet that Karl will turn underachiever Javale McGee into a legitimate basketball player. Just wait and see.   #4 Rick Adelman (Minnesota Timberwolves) Let me start by saying that the Timberwolves will make the playoffs next season. Now on to why Adelman is one of the top five coaches in the game today. In his 21 seasons as an NBA head coach, Rick Adelman has finished below .500 only 4 times. Everywhere he has gone, he has made the team better. He led the Portland Trailblazers to two NBA Finals, and also had the Sacramento Kings one win away from the 2002 NBA Finals. Then the NBA “allegedly” intervened and gave the series to the Lakers. The fact that he is a former player and has won at every stop in his coaching career gives Adelman instant credibility in the locker room.   #5 Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City Thunder) I thought long and hard about who deserved the final spot on this list. There were several deserving candidates, but after careful consideration, Scott Brooks definitely deserves the final spot. While it may be true that Brooks coaches the most talented young core of individuals in the league, he has done a lot to develop them into a great team. When the whole world was knocking Russell Westbrook’s ability to play point guard, Brooks stuck with him and is now reaping the rewards of that decision. Brooks has also convinced his players to play within themselves and not try to do things that they aren’t capable of doing well. For instance, you never see Kendrick Perkins trying to shoot a three pointer like Andrew Bynum. Serge Ibaka also sticks to shots within his range and concentrates on playing defense. The primary scorers on that team are Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, so logically they also take the most shots. The Thunder play extremely hard for their coach, and thrive in the culture of accountability and continuous improvement that Brooks has created in the organization. As a team, Oklahoma City currently has two flaws. They lack an inside scoring presence and they don’t play great defense. I have no doubt that these two issues will be addressed during the offseason and in training camp. Next season I fully expect improvement in both areas. I have that much confidence in Brooks’ ability. The fact that he has improved the Thunder’s winning percentage from  .280 to .712 in just three seasons tells me that he knows how to identify and correct weaknesses.   NOW FOR MY BALLER AND SCRUB OF THE WEEK: Baller: NBA Schedule Makers – The NBA decided to get right to it and open the season with the most heated rivalry in the game today. We all know that Boston and Miami hate each other. We also know that Paul Pierce hates playing LeBron James just as much as every guard on Miami’s team hates to see Rajon Rondo entering the arena. This is a heated rivalry that will only be intensified next year because of that Ray Allen guy. As a Celtics’ fan, I thought it was time to say goodbye to Allen. However, Miami is the last place that I wanted to see him end up. It’s not an accident that he ended up playing for Boston’s most bitter rival; he definitely has some ill feelings toward some in the Celtics organization. I’m looking forward to this game, and I’m sure it will draw television ratings to rival last year’s finals. Scrubs: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James – A couple of weeks ago Kobe Bryant (who I hate) said out loud that this year’s Olympic team could beat The Dream Team. That was obviously a stupid thing to say. Earlier this week, LeBron obviously drank some of the same “stupid juice” that Kobe had been sipping and echoed those same sentiments. I’m not going to go into all the reasons that both of them are wrong or the ways in which the Dream Team would dismantle them. I’m simply going to say that the only player on this year’s Olympic Team that would start on the Dream Team is LeBron James. Also, I think it would be absolutely hysterical to see Tyson Chandler try to play against David Robinson and Patrick Ewing. That’s as far as this analysis needs to go, so I’ll stop here and just call Kobe and LeBron scrubs for being so utterly stupid.   By: Carlos Edwards (on twitter @scashhomey) The post Top 5 Current NBA Coaches appeared first on Pass The Pill.
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