NBA / Dec 17, 2009 / 1:29 pm

The Top 5 NBA Coaches This Season

Mike Woodson

Behind every great team is a great coach. Several coaches this year have literally turned around the fortunes of their respected franchises. While Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson are definitely putting in work, it doesn’t really come at a huge surprise that those teams are killing it. We ranked the five coaches that have gotten the most out of their players so far and have posted records that far exceeded expectations.

1. Mike Woodson (Hawks): By making it to the second round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Hawks opened up a lot of eyes last season. While people expected maybe the same out of Atlanta again in ’09-10, not many people thought that they would be legit championship contenders. Woodson has led the upstart Hawks to an 18-6 record which is good for third place in the Eastern Conference. Woodson can be credited for the resurgence of Josh Smith, who is playing more efficient this season and at an All-Star level. With so many people who want the shots on this team, he has been able to keep everyone on the roster happy by keeping the focused on sharing the ball, defense and winning. It is unbelievable to me that Woodson has not gotten an extension yet.

2. Rick Carlisle (Mavs): Just a few months ago, the Mavs were talked about as being an aging team with the potential of being an eighth seed at best. People said 36-year-old Jason Kidd was too old and Dirk Nowitzki was too soft. So far this season, Rick Carlisle has lit a fire under his troops’ behinds as the Mavs are playing some of the best basketball in the league right now. They are tied for second place of a tough Western Conference with a 19-7 record. The Mavs are playing D and are closing out close games.

3. Alvin Gentry (Suns): Like the Mavs, the Suns were a squad that were written off from the get-go. A lot of people around Phoenix labeled GM Steve Kerr as the man who ruined the Suns. While he has made some questionable decisions in his tenure with the team, one decision he didn’t drop the ball with was hiring Gentry. The long-time Suns’ assistant and former Clippers coach has brought back the run-and-gun offense that Mike D’Antoni started. Gentry has been consistent with his team’s rotation and has kept everyone happy. They are a perfect 9-0 at home and are in fourth place with a 17-8 record. If the Suns can keep it up, not only will they have a chance to go far in the playoffs but they could convince Amar’e Stoudemire to stay in the Valley of the Sun past this season.

4. Scott Brooks (Thunder): If the playoffs started today, the Thunder would not be in the playoffs. Odds are, they probably won’t be come April. But what Brooks has done with the Thunder has been nothing short of amazing. Brooks is a young coach, who is coaching an even younger roster in a loaded Western Conference. They’ve dropped 3 straight, but the Thunder are still 12-12 and have had big wins against the Spurs, Jazz and Magic. Now that he has the confidence of his extremely talented young core (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, James Harden), Brooks could grow up with them in this league and be the coach that will take OKC to a championship some day.

5. John Kuester (Pistons): In the case of the Detroit Pistons, their 11-14 record doesn’t tell the whole story. On top of having a weak roster before the start of the season, their roster has been even weaker during it as they’ve dealt with injuries to Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton. Kuester has somehow managed to keep the Pistons competitive and has them sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. If everyone gets healthy and he can get them to play together, than the Pistons could see a postseason in 2010.

Who has done the best coaching job so far this season?

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  • LakeShow84

    Still no mention of Adelman??

    Man is such an underrated coach its sad..

  • b

    i’d probably put westphal or adelman on there instead of kuester or carlisle. maybe put scotty brooks # 2 also. but overall a good list.

  • hayesfan

    Wow.. I mean wow.. are you serious?

    There is no way a top five coaches list should be made without Adelman in the top three.

  • RonNation


  • Rizwan

    Why does Gerald wrie all the articles on this site now?

  • dagwaller

    Just like the Improved Player award, the COY category is always stacked. b, I’m with you saying Westphal or Adelman on there, but the top 5 is hard to argue with!

    SVG having to deal with another Jameer Nelson injury, Shard being out 10 games, incorporating Vince Carter, still 2nd in the East? Karl, Nugs 2nd in West, after losing a few key reserves? Dunleavy losing Blake Griffin, Clips contending for a playoff spot? Just saying.

  • flegman

    c’mon, WHERE IS Rick Adelman?!

  • http://www.WhyCandaceWhySheldon.thatbastard.com Chicagorilla

    Damn, Rick Alderman is winning games and doing a good job, but it’s not really that big of a miss to not put him on there. Shit, you hoes find anything to complain about whenever someone writes an article.

    Good article, about time someone gave credit to the actual good coaches in the game. I haven’t watched a full Pistons game yet, but for them to be winning with all those players in and out, coach must be doing something good.

  • MSkittle

    You gotta include Adelman!!

  • Prof. TX

    Adelman should have had that 5 spot. Compared to Detroit, the Rockets have a better record, in a tough division/conference, with a rough schedule, and not a single all-star.

  • Crooklyn

    Larry B!!!! Come on Bobcats are in contention, with no even on the team next to Stax Jack and G-Wallace!!

  • phong

    Wow, I agree with most of the other posters here. Adelman needs to be on this list, the Rockets and Kings to me are the surprises of the season so far. No one had the Rockets even being a .500 team this year without T-Mac and Yao. They’re winning games with a bunch of hustle players.

    Westpaul needs to be on this list too. He’s turning around one of the worse teams in the league last year to a .500 team with a bunch of youngsters. KMart Jr. has been out and they continue to stay .500.

    Woodson should not be on this list. Yea, ATL is playing great, but isn’t that the normal progression for teams? Make the playoffs one year, next year, win a playoff series.

  • Diego

    I must confess Woodson has got the Hawks gelling. Plus I have watched his coaching improve as he seems to be less rigid with lineups than he used to be. I also think he has his players’ respect these days.

    But I have NO problem with him not getting extension yet. He should consider his last extension a gift from God. Woodson did horribly his first few years (and ran off some players), and his predecessor Terry Stotts actually did more with less–but got yanked quickly. Woodson was kept because Hawks owners are cash poor and Woodson made no waves with them (unlike former GM Billy Knight).

    And by the way, current GM Rick Sund gets WAY too much credit for the current (and last year’s) team’s success. Knight brought in Joe, Josh, , Zaza, Horford (and the local yahoos at the Hawks draft party were pretty unhappy with that, preferring Conley) and Marvin. (Not sure who was at the helm for Bibby trade.) Knight must get pretty pissed off in his Lazy-Boy at night watching his former Hawks team shine, while he gets no credit.

  • jryu

    i’m sure knight isn’t all too pissed. considering he drafted some guy named shelden? yeah………

    not to mention the 2005 draft. i’m sure he sleeps just fine at night.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Can’t get down on this.

    Pretty Ricky should be on here and Mike Brow I mean Woodson (well they bout the same) should be off, with that Atl squad he ain’t really doing wonders, that is par for that team. No marvelous decisions.

    Rick ain’t doing wonders with the squad he got, just expected as well..

    Alvin Gentry was going to do well, specially with “The Big Slow Down” out the way.

    Thunder and Pistons I will give you.

    Reachin hard on the coachin props. This article could have been -who are the best coaches not coaching or -Why can some coaches do more with less, or -why some coaches have all the pieces and can’t bring it home. This seems hurried and without to much thought, not complainin, just sayin,

  • kevin k

    Woodson @ #1???

    seriously???? Hey Narci, why don’t you watch some Hawks game instead of just looking at the record before declaring Woodson as the #1 coach.

    Perfect example: Would you guys really consider Mike Brown of the Cavaliers the coach of the year last year?? Seriously???

  • Reddi Red

    @ chicagorilla……. good point bruh.
    But you gotta watch a Pistons game. Kuester is coaching his a$$ completely off.
    anytime you have a 2 starters + your 6th and 7th injured, yet, have your team in EVERY game AND beating some legit contenders, then you gotta be coaching like a you know what!

    go Pistons!

  • sh!tfaced

    What the fuck? No Rick Adelman? You lose your star big man for a year or more and keep losing your star scorer to injuries and are left with a bunch of role players and still keep winning, staying above .500

    Seems like the man can really damn coach. But who really gives a shit about the COY, most of the winners have been fired anyway, Avery, Sam Mitchell, Byron Scott… Maybe that’s why Sloan and Adelman will never be COY.

  • Mid

    No Skiles love? Bucks are a playoff team right now when everyone and their momma picked them dead last in the East….

  • Tim

    the fact that the Pistons haven’t played a single game with the full roster they opened camp with is enough for Kuester to be in the top 5.

  • QQ

    Stan Van Gundy.

    Am I biased? Fuck yeah. But he deserves it.

    And yeah, gotta ride the bandwagon, RICK ADELMAN.

  • Big V

    I don’t think anybody does more with less than Rick Adelman.

  • GMC

    yea gerald stop posting without actually doing some reasearch first. at least have adelman in honorable mention or somethin, a lot of these comments are right

  • chief youngblood

    Rick Adelman

    they all right

  • Beth G

    no love for paul westphal?

  • VBG

    No Rick Adelman? Sure I’m repeating what others said.

    Still emphasize NO RICK ADELMAN.

  • honduras

    rick adelman, do you speak it?

  • mmex