Grading the NBA Coaching Hires
GRADING THE NBA COACHING HIRES – The NBA offseason is officially here after the Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Prior to that, there was a hot coaching carousel that spun out of control with a flurry of names circulating.
Six teams have new head coaches, including the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Phoenix Suns also hired a new coach, and it isn’t just low-end teams that hired new head men.
With that being said, let us grade each of the six coaching hires in the NBA.
Detroit Pistons: Monty Williams
There really wasn’t a valid excuse, either, and Williams became the fall man. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t last long. However, the surprising part is the Pistons inked him to a record-breaking six-year contract worth $78 million.
Detroit is in the middle of a youthful movement, so don’t expect much from Williams in his first year, but this is the best hire of them all.
The Pistons get an experienced head coach that gets to work with a talented young roster that has financial flexibility. This is a money move for Detroit.
Philadelphia 76ers: Nick Nurse
The Toronto Raptors moving on from Nick Nurse was written on the walls for some time.
However, it appeared that he would end up with the Bucks or Suns. Then, the 76ers moved on from Doc Rivers and named Nurse as the head coach.
Nurse is my favorite candidate of them all, but the reason this gets a lower grade than Monty is because of the question marks in Philly.
Will James Harden stay? Can Joel Embiid be the centerpiece to lead this team to an NBA Finals? It’s championship or bust for Nurse.
Phoenix Suns: Frank Vogel
Do you want to talk about out of left field? The Suns fired Monty Williams only to hire Frank Vogel.
On one hand, it’s confusing. On the other, Vogel has an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers. He worked with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, and others during that bubble season.
He also has experience with Paul George and the Indiana Pacers and the Orlando Magic, so Vogel brings lofty experience.
On paper, Vogel over Williams isn’t an upgrade. But, if he can work with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker the way he did with LeBron and AD, it could pay off.
Milwaukee Bucks: Adrian Griffin
The Bucks lost in the first round to the Heat and promptly fired Mike Budenholzer. Right away, Nick Nurse became the favorite. That is, until the Bucks hired Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, who shared the bench with Nurse.
With a roster that features Giannis Antetokounmpo and now some rumblings on a possible Bradley Beal trade, hiring a first-time head coach is a massive risk for a championship contender.
But, Giannis was reportedly involved, and Griffin could be the next star head coach. You never know.
Houston Rockets: Ime Udoka
The Rockets moved on from Stephen Silas, who had a bad hand dealt to him from the beginning. The Rockets have some pieces and will add another one with a top-5 pick in the draft, so this isn’t a bad landing spot by any means.
However, Ime Udoka was fired from the Boston Celtics after the allegations came down, so Houston hiring him brings about a ton of question marks. Can he coach?
That isn’t the question. This move just comes with a ton of risks from an off-the-court perspective.
Toronto Raptors: Darko Rajakovic
This is the strangest hire of them all this year. The Raptors could have hired Doc Rivers, Mike Budenholzer, Kenny Atkinson, or others, but they elected to go with Rajakovic. However, he does have a lot of experience. He has stints with the Tulsa 66ers in the G League as an assistant and assistant trips with the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Raptors appear primed for a rebuild with Fred VanVleet likely leaving, so Rajakovic does not have to worry about winning games right off the bat. This is tough to grade because of how unknown he is, but this could end up being a terrific hire, or a terrible one.