Coaching Candidates - NBA

I’ve been looking into potential coaches recently. Partially because of EmkayTrey’s post, partially because I couldn’t find the article posted a few months ago detailing some potential coaches. I don’t claim to know what the Jazz plan to do with Corbin this offseason, but if they decide to go in a different direction, I wanted to get an idea of who may be coming to SLC.

I’ve broken my list down into three categories: NBA coaches, international coaches, and college coaches. I would have liked to add a section on assistant coaches and d-league coaches, but I do not have the time to slog through the plethora of names in those categories to find those I would consider. (Though I may cover one or two that have ties to the Jazz) If someone else wants to take the time to do that, go ahead.

This post will just detail candidates who have NBA head coaching experience. If you like it, let me know and I'll finish up the international and college posts. And so it begins…

Stan Van Gundy

Age: 54; Experience: 8 Seasons (Head Coach), 8 Seasons (Asst.), 8 Seasons (College)

if you're interested: link1, link2, link3

Style: Take a look at the links above for more a more detailed description of his coaching style, but I’ll mention a few highlights. SVG preaches defense above all else. He has very set rules for defense and demands his players adhere to them. He’s willing to tailor those rules to the abilities of his team, but once they’re set, they become law. Offensively, SVG is dynamic. He practically invented the stretch-4 position by playing Rashard Lewis next to Dwight Howard in Orlando. He heavily uses the pick and roll, but will change his offense to fit the skills of his personnel. Overall he’s considered to be one of the most skillful and innovative coaches in the league.

Personality: This is what has caused most of his problems. SVG is loud, stubborn, and demanding. He has a reputation for being overly negative at times and doesn’t massage egos. He likes advanced metrics, but is skeptical of how they’re being tracked and recorded. He speaks his mind to his players, front office, and media. He softened a bit at the end of his time in Orlando, but we have yet to see if he’d maintain that demeanor with a new team.

My Take: This name seems to come up for every team that’s looking for a new head coach. I personally don’t think the Jazz have much of a chance at signing him. SVG is a great coach, but he’s probably much too expensive for our small market team. Add to that the fact that he’s claimed to prefer warm climates, and I don’t think he’s a realistic option. That said, I fully expect Lindsay to prepare a convincing argument for why the Millers should splurge and bring him in.

Nate McMillan

Age: 49; Experience: 12 Seasons (Head Coach), 2 Seasons (Asst.)

if you're interested: link1

Style: He’s the ultimate system coach. He uses a stats based offense that maximizes the teams ability to score, but it’s not the most entertaining thing to watch. He uses isolations if he has the players who can do it, otherwise his offense is based around getting a good (not great) shot. His defensive system is highly conservative and focuses on protecting the paint. On the perimeter he prefers to switch on all screens.

Personality: McMillan is a cool-headed disciplinarian. He firmly believes in players earning everything they get (from playing time to the right to wear headbands) through hard work and adherence to rules. He’s stubborn, but not always in a good way. If a player’s skills don’t fit his system, too bad for the player. His rigidity can lead to great success, or devastating failure, but he will stay constant though it all.

My Take: I’ve always liked McMillan as a coach. I think he did some remarkable things in Portland and he deserves another shot as a head coach. He’s currently an assistant in Indiana and may want to stay with a legitimate title contender for a little while before taking another chance as a head coach. My guess is that he’s had a large influence on Indiana’s defense, but has likely picked up a few things from Vogel as well. If we’re really looking to establish ourselves as a premiere defensive team, we could do a lot worse than McMillan.

Jeff Van Gundy

Age: 52; Experience: 11 Seasons (Head Coach), 7 Seasons (Asst.)

if you're interested: link1

Style: Yet another defensive minded coach. JVG has never coached a team that wasn’t top 6 in defensive efficiency, and he doesn’t need a lot of high profile or elite defensive players to get his team to that level. I couldn’t find much on his offensive style, so I don’t want to give false impressions, but I have found that his teams are generally average or worse in offensive rating.

Personality: He’s a micro-manager, and he isn’t shy about speaking his mind about everything from the referees to his players. He received, at the time, the largest fine in league history for criticizing how referees allowed Yao Ming to be hacked repeatedly. He’s continued that abrasive commentary at ESPN, and there’s no indication that he would change if he went back to coaching. That said, he is also known for truly motivating his players to give their best effort at all times, which leads me to believe that his extremely harsh criticism is usually directed at the media and league, not necessarily at his players.

My Take: I’ve heard that JVG is interested in getting back into coaching after spending the last few years as an commentator. I’m not sure I fully buy that, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the Jazz trying. The biggest worry that I have is that JVG may be a bit too used to the spotlight. His previous coaching jobs were in New York and Houston, two of the biggest markets in the NBA. Since then, he’s been the color man on ESPN. Making the move from those high-profile jobs to the very small market Utah Jazz may be too much for him to even consider us.

Lionel Hollins

Age: 60; Experience: 7 Seasons (Head Coach), 7 Seasons (Asst.), 3 Seasons (Intl.)

if you're interested: link1

Style: It’s a little hard to really get a handle on Hollins’ style since he’s spent all of his time with the same team. His most recent run with the Grizzlies showed that he is capable of fielding a league leading defense. His teams are usually top ten in steals while allowing a high number of 3PA, which indicates a willingness to gamble on defense. Offensively, he focuses on paint scoring and offensive rebounds. Please keep in mind that many of these ideas may be based on the personnel Hollins has to work with and not his overall philosophy.

Personality: I haven’t found a whole lot on Hollins’ demeanor with his players. Zach Randolph said that Hollins will demand respect, which is nice since Randolph had some personality problems early in his career. From Hollins’ discussions with the media about his dismissal from Memphis, we can see that he’s pretty stubborn and won’t pull punches, but that turned out to be to his detriment.

My Take: I’m not a big fan of Hollins. His only head coaching experience comes in three separate stints for the Grizzlies, a team which has only recently had any success. He’s an old-school coach in the new NBA. That, in and of itself, isn’t an issue for me, but I’m not too fond of his distaste for analytics. It’s rumored that one of the reasons he wasn’t retained by the Grizzlies is that he and their new GM John Hollinger disagreed about the use of advanced statistics in games. If Lindsay is the numbers guy we all hope he is, I don’t think Hollins would be a good fit.

George Karl

Age: 62; Experience: 25 Seasons (Head Coach), 3 Seasons (Asst.), 7 Seasons (CBA/FIBA)

if you're interested: link1, link2

Style: Karl’s style is very flexible. He seems to focus on offense or defense based on his personnel, though his teams have generally been more offensive minded. He likes to set game objectives and then lets his players find their own way of achieving them, especially on defense. He likes to switch, but his teams have rarely been able to do so effectively. He loves ball movement on offense and expects his teams to get into the paint since he hates the long 2.

Personality: Early in his career, Karl had the nickname ‘Furious George.’ He’s a passionate coach and he uses that passion to motivate his players. He openly communicates with his players and likes to get their feedback, as long as they understand that he makes the final decision. Karl doesn’t micro-manage, but he does have clear goals and objectives that he expects his players to buy into. He also isn’t afraid to clash with the front office if he feels his way will win more games (as evidenced by his starting of Kosta Koufus at the expense of Javale McGee).

My Take: I don’t have anything against Karl. I like that his reputation is for getting the most out of his players, but I’m not convinced he’d be a good fit for the Jazz right now. He’s primarily an offensive minded coach, and I think we need a defensive minded one. He reminds me a lot of Jerry Sloan, but I think he’s really missing the Phil Johnson type of #2 that helped Jerry be so successful for so long.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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