Starting 5: Comparing new coaches hired in 2013-2014
5. Brett Brown, Philadelphia
Easily the worst record of the coaches on this list, Brown’s struggles have been more about having a bad roster than bad coaching. That said, it’s still unclear as to what kind of team does Brown envision putting on the floor. Will they be defensive-minded, or will they try to play with great pace and space? Hard to say which way Brown’s crew will go along those lines which is why I have him at the bottom of this list.
4. Steve Clifford, Charlotte
It didn’t take long for Clifford to turn the Hornets into a team whose strength lies in their ability to defend at a high level. The biggest challenge facing Charlotte has been staying healthy. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been an elite defender who impacts winning in a big way … when healthy. But to Clifford’s credit, he has managed to still keep Charlotte in the hunt for a playoff spot despite having had to go long stretches without key players.
3. Dave Joerger, Memphis
Joerger has done an incredible job this season keeping the Grizzlies among the top teams in the West despite a barrage of injuries to key players which includes center Marc Gasol being out for most of this season. But the one knock on Joerger is that, like Mike Budenholzer, he inherited a team with a pair of all-star caliber players in Gasol and Zach Randolph along with a defensive ace in ex-Celtic Tony Allen. That’s a pretty nice 1-2-3 punch to have in your first head coaching job.
2. Brad Stevens, Boston
Despite the constant roster changes courtesy of trader Danny, Stevens has still managed to keep this team trending in the right direction.
Boston hasn’t had the success of some other teams that made head coaching changes at the same time, but there’s little doubt that Stevens is one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the NBA.
He has helped transform Boston into a playoff team quicker than most expected. But they still have to prove their worth as a team worthy of success in the postseason which is why Stevens is high but not at the top of this list.
1. Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta
Budenholzer has done a really good job during his time in Atlanta. But in comparison to his fellow coaches, the former San Antonio assistant easily inherited the most talented team in terms of quality and depth. And the man he replaced, Mike Woodson, had Atlanta on a winning course prior to the team deciding not to give him an extension. Still, give Budenholzer props for taking the group he was given and elevating them to being one of the top teams in the East rather than just a squad good enough to get to the playoffs which was the case under Woodson.