Ranking the top NBA head coaches
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Charley Rosen / Special to FOXSports.com
With the departure of Mike Montgomery, there are no longer any incompetent coaches in the NBA. Still, some coaches are better than others.
The following ratings are not necessarily based on the respective coaches' performances during the 2005-06 season; they are instead meant as overall evaluations of each coaches' strengths and weaknesses.
(Rankings are listed in alphabetical order under each catergory)
Phi Beta Kappa — Straight A's
Phil Jackson: Employs the most effective offensive system. Can be counted on to induce the best results out of the least talented players.
Gregg Popovich: Great motivator and teacher. Demands and receives the full respect of his players. His only flaw is his occasional stubbornness.
Pat Riley: His pre-game preparation is peerless. Also makes incredibly effective between-game adjustments during the postsesason.
Dean's List — B-plus
Jerry Sloan: Since the retirement of Karl Malone and John Stockton, he has demonstrated his flexibility. These days, however, he's limited by the inflexibility of his players' talents.
Honor Roll — B's
Rick Carlisle: A hard-core type, who doesn't bother with social/media niceties. With Indiana, he has coaxed maximum effort from a perennially flawed squad.
Avery Johnson: Young and energetic. Has a natural aptitude for coaching at this level. Will continue to grow and become one of the best.
Bernie Bickerstaff: The perfect teacher for a post-expansion team. Is patient and knowledgeable and happily lets his players dwell in the spotlight.
Among the Elite — B-minus
Lawrence Frank: Always intense and never out-worked. Must exhibit more faith in his pass-screen-and-cut system and restrain from simply running isolation plays for Vince Carter in clutch situations.
Eddie Jordan: Nothing phony about him in any way. Like Frank, must remain true to his Princetonian offense. Is greatly handicapped, however, by Washington's lack of any effective big men. The Wizards are a donut team — they look good, but offer little nourishment. Plus there's that hole in the middle.
Eric Musselman: His relentless intensity wore out many of the less-intense Warriors. Must maintain his emphasis on defense, yet at the same time instill more discipline on offense.
Flip Saunders: Has the expertise and the vision. Can't let the veteran Pistons intimidate him.
Byron Scott: Removed from the glare and pressure of the New York metropolitan area, is showing marked signs of maturing as a coach. His arrogance is fading and his players believe in him.
Scott Skiles: Feisty, aggressive, and can be annoyingly overbearing. Has all the right ideas, but his act can wear thin if the Bulls don't win.
A Cut Above — C-plus
Mike Fratello: Works hard, doesn't nag as much as he used to, and gets along with the good guys. But can he take a team to the next level?
George Karl: Plays too many head games with his players. That's the main reason why his teams habitually underachieve. Needs to focus on a solid defensive scheme.
Nate McMillan: A mature, demanding coach trying to teach a team that's still loaded with too many kindergartners how to be responsible adults. Needs to open up his offense a bit.
Strictly Average — C's
Mike Brown: Still learning on the job so his offense is predictable. Hampered by lack of defensive players. His misusage of James will sooner or later result in a serious injury.
Mike Casey: Blessed/cursed with the necessity of depending upon Kevin Garnett to be a superman. Which, despite his numbers and mostly cheerful mien, KG is not.
Mike D'Antoni: Is only interested in half of the game. The wrong half.
Mike Dunleavy: Solid pro, but sometimes tends to over-coach.
Brian Hill: Another guy whose ego-power can be unbearable if his team isn't a genuine contender.
Bob Hill: Has been around and knows his Xs and Os. Can match Riley's arrogance and splendiferous wardrobe, but little else.
Sam Mitchell: Had the perfect combative spirit needed for an NBA player of limited talents, but as a coach he needs to muzzle himself in public. On a short string.
Don Nelson: Too much smoke, too many bells and mirrors. Gimmicks don't succeed in the playoffs.
Doc Rivers: The perfect fit in Boston — a mediocre coach for a mediocre team. His glibness should not be confused with legitimate ability.
Terry Stotts: His players like him and work hard — which is a significant plus. Has all the necessary tools to be an outstanding coach, but needs more fire.
Jeff Van Gundy: The hot seat is about to burst into flames. Needs to show more versatility and make fewer excuses.
Mike Woodson: A workmanlike coach. But only a magician can resurrect the still moribund Hawks.
On Probation — C-minus
Isiah Thomas: Eventually his phony persona will once again alienate his players. He's been able to hide out in the front office, but being in the command seat reveals all.
On the Verge of Flunking — D's
Maurice Cheeks: Lacks the necessary charisma and imagination. Was hired because of his tight relationship with A.I. A nice guy in a dead-end job.
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