Make sure you check out Part 1 of this series before taking a glance at Part 2!
Last season, Quin Snyder was by far the league’s most overlooked coach. Snyder put together one of the leagues best teams despite his team starting a total of 23 different starting lineups. That is a new starting lineup per every three and a half games.
Unmatched by any other team, Utah fought through their injuries and never made any excuses along the way. Whether it was Gordon Hayward who missed a good chunk at the start of the season due to a pre-existing injury, or George Hill who missed nearly the entire season due to foot surgery.
Quin Snyder always found a way to rally his men and lead them to victories. Thankfully, Utahs play style matches that mentality perfectly. As long as you can play great defense and take care of the ball offensively, Quin Snyder has built a system for you to succeed in. Snyder took over Utah in 2014 when they were nothing more than a lottery team. However, Quin quickly installed the winning culture that seemed absent with the previous coach and in just three years, the Jazz was back to nearly contending. Snyder, who started coaching in 1992, has yet to let go of that 90s play style. His teams have played solid tough defense and then slowed it down and taken fundamentally sound shots offensively. An ideal score for the Utah Jazz is 88-75.
However, that play style will be especially be tested this upcoming season as Quin will no longer be able to rely on Gordon Hayward to carry the scoring load. However, as I said before, the great ones always find a way to win.
Predicted Ranking: N/A
If Quin somehow found a way to sustain Utah’s success despite their disappointing offseason it would be one of the craziest feats we have ever seen. With that said, I won’t believe it until I see it. NBA Northwest Division Predictions.
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Erik Spoelstra nearly led the greatest Cinderella story in NBA regular season history. After a horrific 11-30 start, the Heat bounced back and went on a 30-11 run to end the season but just missed the playoffs coming in as the 9th seed, just less than half a game back of the Chicago Bulls. This amazing comeback can only be contributed to the amazing coaching of Erik Spoelstra and his team.
Of course, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside did their part but ultimately, the Heat would have been considered one of the leagues worst teams without the unmatched coaching of Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra, who started in this league as the director of scouting for the Heat, was working behind the scenes for nearly a decade before randomly getting pulled up to be the head coach.
Spoelstra immediately made an impact leading Miami to four straight NBA final appearances which also included two NBA Championships and four Eastern Conference Championships. However, many wrote off Spoelstra as they believed it was the superteam factor rather than the coaching. Although, as I have said before, it takes a special kind of coach to balance all of those egos and mesh them to form a championship team.
With that said, let’s take a look at where Erik Spoelstra is projected to be on this list next season.
Predicted Ranking: 5/10
There is no possible way the Heat could see a big enough win improvement to move Spoelstra up in this list and due to the improvement of other premier coaches teams, Spoelstra will likely move down at least one spot on this list next season. If you want to read more about my Miami Heat predictions for next year, read my NBA Southeast Division Predictions.
President of the NBA’s Coaches Association, Rick Carlisle is one of the league’s most respected figures. Carlisle is also a former player who won the 1986 NBA championship and has been able to incredibly transfer his knowledge into coaching. Learning under an NBA legend in Larry Bird, although Carlisle only averaged 2.2 points per game throughout his career, he has become one of the best coaches this league has ever seen.
Despite the Mavericks lackluster season last year, Carlisle has built a great enough reputation to not let that affect his legacy or ranking among the league’s coaches. Carlisle solidified his legacy a few years ago when he led a less than championship ready team to an NBA Finals win over the Miami Heats newly formed super team.
Carlisle has also been an advocate of past coaches getting fired such as Kevin McHale who was fired early in the season a few years back. Then there is the Dirk Nowitzki factor. Carlisle has been the coach for the most of Nowitzki’s prime and was smart enough to leave the facilitating up to a veteran point guard in Jason Kidd. However, the Mavericks future looks bleak as Nowitzki is getting ready to retire and they have already entered rebuilding mode.
With that said, let’s check out where Rick Carlisle is predicted to stand on this list come this time next year.
Predicted Ranking: 3/10
At this point in Carlisle’s career, the Mavericks aren’t going to get much better but even if they did make a run for the playoffs, Carlisle isn’t moving up on this list and probably also isn’t moving any further down it. If you want to read more about my predicted season for the Dallas Mavericks, check out my NBA Southwest Division Predictions.
Steve Kerr took over a middle of the road team and led them to three straight NBA Finals appearances. That incredible stretch included two different NBA championships and looks as if there are no signs of slowing down.
Kerr, who was a 5x NBA champion as a player, played under some of the greatest coaches this league will ever see in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Both of which have inspired Kerr’s coaching style and laid back mentality. Although Kerr has been blessed with great talents in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and now Kevin Durant, many of them were not nearly as impactful before as they are today.
Green, for example, was simply an expendable role player for the first few years of his career but now you couldn’t dream of a trade that would tear Draymond away from the Warriors. Another example of Kerr’s impact is Stephen Curry, who was just a 1x all-star before Kerr came along and now is a 2x NBA MVP and the first unanimous MVP in league history.
Now obviously not all of this improvement is due to Steve Kerr but it is no coincidence that suddenly the Warriors young core started to sprout once Kerr took over. Even Klay Thompson although looked at as a pure shooter has gotten much better at finishing around the rim.
However, many have written of Kerr for last seasons championship as he missed the majority of the postseason and the team added an NBA superstar in Kevin Durant. But I have said it many times on this list before and I will say it again, it takes a special kind of talent to blend the egos of stars and convince them to other want to play for one another.
As for the absence, Kerr built a winning culture in Golden State which made it that basically, anyone in the organization could take over the team for a short stint and not miss a beat.
With that said, let’s see if Kerr will drop or improve on this list come this time next year.
Predicted Ranking: 2/10
Barring any sort of injury, the Warriors should not fall in the standings and Kerr has solidified himself among the leagues best coaches. Steve will also not take any steps further on this list simply due to legacy points. If Kerr continues his success for another decade or so, then it’s a different story, but for now, Kerr will have to settle for second place. NBA Pacific Division Predictions.
Gregg Popovich is by far the greatest coach of the 2000’s era. A 5x NBA champion and future Hall Of Famer, Popovich will go down as the arguably the second greatest coach in NBA history as the San Antonio Spurs have made the playoffs for an astonishing sixteen straight seasons (and counting).
Teenagers who you may pass on the road still haven’t seen San Antonio absent from the Western Conference playoffs. That is a feat no other coach can say they have achieved.
Pop along with the Spurs organization as a whole is great at developing young underrated players into great role players and sometimes even NBA stars. An example of this is Kawhi Leonard who was drafted 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers but was immediately traded to the Spurs for veteran point guard George Hill. It’s safe to say that Gregg and the Spurs won that trade. Popovich then proceeded to slowly turn Leonard into a defensive anchor with his breakout moment coming in the 2014 NBA Finals when he won Finals MVP due to his amazing defense on LeBron James.
That is just one of many examples of Popovich taking less than star level players to the “promise land”. The Popovich era has also outlasted some of the NBA greats in Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, and most likely Dirk Nowitzki.
Although he has never won back to back championships, Pop does have the most rings out of any coach in the 200’s era. With that said, let’s take a look at where Gregg Popovich will be on this list next season.
Predicted Ranking: 1/10
At this point, it is all about legacy. Although many may put Steve Kerr at this spot rather than Popovich, I am going to give Gregg the benefit of doubt and cushion his ranking due to his legacy. However, Popovich is still a top two coach in this league leading the San Antonio Spurs to the Western Conference Finals last year. If you want to read more about my San Antonio Spurs predictions for next season, read my NBA Southwest Division Predictions article.