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Thibodeau, Vogel, head 2010-2011 NBA Coaching class

Tyrone Corbin is just one of five coaches to debut in the 2010-2011 season. This group of rookie coaches had a normal season, lost a training camp to the lockout, and have had lots of injuries. Let's look at how they've fared.

Jonathan Daniel

"I don't know about coaching, but I know what I like," - fans

The Utah Jazz seem to be coming to an awkward point in the next few weeks when they need to make a decision on Tyrone Corbin. For Corbin it only makes sense that he'd want and would accept a job from the Jazz. He has spent more time in Utah than anywhere else in his basketball career. There have been ups and downs in the last few seasons, and that's only natural. Over time we've heard countless excuses being pushed onto us from powerful people -- Tyrone was at an abject disadvantage all these years because:

  • There were too many veteran free agents on the team
  • There were too many young lotto picks on the team
  • He didn't have a full training camp because of the lockout (btw, the Lockout only affected Utah, apparently)
  • He had to join the team and assume head coaching duties in the middle of the season
  • The fans are mean
  • El Nino
  • Reptilians
  • Paul Millsap had checked out
  • Raja Bell and C.J. Miles were bad apples
  • Dennis Lindsey was a new GM
  • Fans are the reason why free agents don't want to come to Utah (actual thing said, btw)
  • The team had young players on it

Corbin's first year as an NBA head coach was the 2010-2011 season. Sure, he started it late because Jerry Sloan retired mid-season. (This isn't new. Frank Layden retired mid-season and Jerry Sloan became the head coach without a training camp; and Sloan retired mid-season and Ty succeeded him.) But he wasn't alone. There were four other coaches who started their NBA head coaching careers then; one of them was also a mid-season replacement. These coaches are Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls), Larry Drew (Atlanta Hawks), Monty Williams (New Orleans Pelicans, then Hornets), and Frank Vogel (Indiana Pacers). All of them have stayed with the team they were promoted to coach, save for Drew who is now the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. And all of them started their coaching career from Day 1, except Vogel and Corbin. Vogel started being head coach 12 days before Ty did.

Here's how they have done (combined record of playoffs + regular season), how many games they played in the NBA as a player, their coaching history, and where the teams have placed:

Debut Full Record Played NCAA NBA Other Division Seed
Coach Team M D Y Yrs G W L % NBA? HC Ast HC Ast HC Ast 1 2 3 4 5
Tom Thibodeau CHI 10 27 2010 4 318 208 120 65.4% 0 1 7 21 2 2
Larry Drew ATL, MIL 10 27 2010 4 318 151 167 47.5% 745 18 2 1 1
Monty Williams NOP 10 27 2010 4 300 122 178 40.7% 486 1 3
Frank Vogel IND 1 31 2011 4 284 176 108 62.0% 0 8 5 2 2
Tyrone Corbin UTA 2 11 2011 4 245 109 136 44.5% 1146 7 3 2 1 1
Total 20 1465 766 709 52.3% 2377 1 7 0 54 0 8 4 6 4 1 5
Average 4.0 293.0 153.2 141.8 475.4 1.0 7.0 0.0 13.5 0.0 4.0 20.0% 30.0% 20.0% 5.0% 20.0%

Tom Thibodeau:

Thibs quickly established a style of play that suited his team. They are known for defense, and play it. Thibs was an assistant coach in the NCAA for 7 years, was a head coach for 1, but then went on to be an assistant coach in the NBA for 21 years before getting the call. He has been a part of a lot of systems and learned quite a bit. He gained experience, but lost his voice. With the Bulls he has spent the majority of his coaching career with Derrick Rose out with phantom injuries -- but still managed to finish 1st or 2nd in the division each year he's been at the helm.

Despite not having rose, he has a 16-18 playoff record, and the best winning % in his coaching class.


Larry Drew:

Larry played nearly 800 regular season and playoff games in the NBA. After that he was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, and other teams, for 18 years. He spent nearly two decades JUST at the NBA level learning the duties of coaches. It's a lot less than Thibs, but Thibs didn't play in the NBA for so many years. Drew has been tasked with taking imbalanced rosters in win-now-mode. He did take the Hawks to the playoffs for 24 games (as many as Thibs has taken the Bulls to), but this season with Milwaukee isn't going as planned. Even with the Bucks killing his record, he's nearly at .500 for his career. As a former player who was put onto teams that didn't have overt meal-ticket players he's done alright by me.

He's not a COY candidate, but he seems to be a good enough communicator who can keep players together in difficult years. He also wins games.


Monty Williams:

Monty was a fringe NBA player who played fewer than 500 games as a player, and has been an assistant head coach for only 5 seasons. He doesn't seem to have any significant plan or emphasis. We know Thibs teams for their defense. We know Drew's teams for their effort. Monty hasn't really done much, but part of that could be because he's always had a lot of injuries to deal with. You could almost give him a pass, but you wont. Because this is the NBA, and performance matters. He looks to capture a third last place finish in the division -- which is partly understandable because of his competition: the Spurs, Rockets, Mavericks, and Grizzlies.

For all his faults he still took the Hornets to the playoffs once, and they won 2 games.


Frank Vogel:

Frank was the film room guy for half a decade in Boston before they finally made him an assistant. That's similar to what happened with Miami's head coach in some ways. Vogel was also an assistant in the NBA for nearly a decade. He, like Thibs, didn't play in the NBA at all. So he has more experience as an assistant than two of the guys who did play in the NBA. What's special about him is that he took over the team mid-season (Jan 31st) and they didn't miss a beat. He's young, he's bright, and he has paid some dues.

Indy hasn't had crazy injuries lately, besides not having Danny Granger for like three years. What he's been forced to do is play younger guys, and have them get seasoned. He's lucky that his front office has scouted and drafted well. But he took those guys and invested in them.

Also, he inherited a lot of big players. He can play a defensive game because these guys are long and are hard to score around. So he took what he got, and formed a gameplan that made them as good as they could be. It can be argued that Vogel has made these guys greater than the sum of their parts. He's leading them right now to wins, and will finish this season with 2 1st place finishes, and 2 2nd place finishes in the division (tying Thibs).

And yes, he started being a head coach 12 days before Ty.


Tyrone Corbin:

Ty has coached the fewest games, he started the latest, and has coached in the fewest playoff games. He has no playoff wins, and I guess if you are trying figure out what stamp he's put on the team, it's that he seems to favor veterans who have bounced around a bit and need to find a home. I guess he's paying it forward now for staying in the league for nearly 1,150 games. Aside from Monty, who we believe is the worst coach here, he has the least coaching experience as an assistant before being promoted.

For example, Thibs has been an assistant coach at the NBA level three times longer than Ty has been one. And four times if you count his assistant coaching jobs at the NCAA level.

The successful coaches here seem to have a system that incorporates the players the GM assembles. And it seems to make them better. Joakim Noah is a great defender, but under Thibs he became a juggernaut. Roy Hibbert has done the same thing under Vogel. Al Jefferson is playing great defense this season under a rookie coach in Charlotte, but under Ty he was as bad as he had ever been on defense.

But I guess it's hard to pin the blame there.


After all, Ty didn't have one training camp, or had to deal with young players, or old players, or bad fans.

None of these other coaches had challenges. Only Ty has. Which is why it's hard to suggest that he's anywhere near the top of his coaching class of 2010-2011. Because while Ty has only had challenges, the other coaches have had success -- in implementing a system, in persevering over injury adversity, or at the very least, winning a playoff game.