Why Unseld Jr. is early name to watch for Wizards head coach


As the Wizards begin the process of choosing a head coach to replace Scott Brooks, who was let go on Wednesday, one name stands out among the initial rumored candidates for a variety of reasons. That would be Denver Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who has been part of the Nuggets' rise and has a series of connections to the Wizards franchise.

Not long after the Brooks news broke, many linked Unseld Jr. to the Wizards, including the Denver Post. NBC Sports Washington has heard similarly, that Unseld Jr. is likely to be considered as the Wizards formulate a list of candidates.

Unseld Jr. began his NBA coaching career with Washington back in 2005 and served on their staff until 2011 when he left to join the Warriors. His father, Wes Unseld Sr., is the most decorated player in franchise history. He was also their head coach and an executive in the front office.

Unseld Jr. grew up and played high school in Maryland. He played college ball at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. While he has interviewed for other head coaching gigs, the Wizards have long been speculated as a logical fit because of those connections.

Unseld Jr., though, would bring more than a recognizable name and local ties. He has been a key assistant under head coach Michael Malone in Denver, as the Nuggets have gone from a lottery team to one of the best in the league, last year making the Western Conference Finals.


Unseld Jr. has a good reputation around the league for dealing with players and for being a defensive mind. The Wizards improved their defense last season, but enter this offseason hoping to take another step on that end of the floor.

Unseld Jr. has not been an NBA head coach before, but appears close to getting his first opportunity. It would be fitting if that opportunity came in Washington, where his father's jersey hangs in the rafters.