The NBA has recently seen a lot of players that have transitioned from the basketball court into the coaching world, and are finding a great deal of success. Some begin at the bottom of the totem pole either as a shooting coach, big man coach, or in some other niche specific role. Others take a seat directly next to the head coach as the top assistant coach. There are some that even become head coaches without any prior experience.
Mark Jackson, for example, became the head coach of the Golden State Warriors after many years of being a commentator on ESPN. Jackson had no coaching experience prior to his coaching career, but as a pass-first point guard, Jackson understood the ins-and-outs of the game better than most other players at his position.
Jason Kidd made the news last summer after he went from being one of the oldest players in the league to one of the youngest coaches in the league in a matter of months. On the one hand, Kidd had zero coaching experience. On the other hand, he had been coaching his entire life as one of the best floor leaders in NBA history. Kidd’s pitch to General Manager Billy King was that he had the capacity to be a great player’s coach, since he had the respect of all of his former peers, yet was still buddy-buddy with them. Kidd also knows the modern game better than any of the other coaches in the league, as one who played the game just last year.
So, what other current NBA players can make the same leap that Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd did from a player to a coach? This is a list of the Top-10 current NBA players that will some day make the Top-10 Best Coaches.
10. Kevin Durant
Superstars do not always make the best coaches. If you look at the current coaching landscape, most of these coaches were role players when they were playing. The latest rumor of Steve Kerr becoming the head coach of the New York Knicks is no surprise. However, there are exceptions that can be made to this rule such as Larry Bird and, potentially, Kevin Durant. You do not become a superstar in the league with a limited knowledge of the game. KD is a student of the game through and through. The combination of his cerebral personality and the fire under his belly, are going to make him a very good coach one day in the league. However, KD is still in his young twenties, so it will be much later than sooner.
9. Kevin Love
Big men do not make the best coaches in the NBA. Most coaches in the NBA were point guards because they function more like the quarterback on the court. However, there are exceptions such as Kevin McHale, and Kevin Love, in many ways, is the second coming of Kevin McHale. K-Love has never been an explosive athlete, so as a big man that plays under the rim, he has to be better at the fundamentals than anyone else to gain that extra advantage. Love is one of the best rebounders in the league and one of the best passers in the league as well. He may not be a master at the X’s and O’s just yet, but he is a master of angles and trajectories, a valuable intellectual property in the coaching world.
8. Damian Lillard
Even though Damian Lillard was Rookie of the Year just last year, he already looks like a seasoned veteran. Lillard is one of the most dynamic point guards in the league. He has a natural feel for the game, and with his docile personality, and winning attitude, he has the capacity of being a very good coach one day. Lillard is still a baby in the NBA, but if he continues on the trajectory that he is currently on, his poise on the court is going to translate very well into the coaching world.
7. Stephen Curry
Steph comes from a NBA family. His father, Dell Curry, was one of the best shooters in the league during his day, so he groomed Steph into becoming a shooter as well. Fast forward many years later, and Stephen Curry is arguably the best shooter in the NBA today. However, an underrated part of Curry’s game is his passing and defense. Curry’s all-around game demonstrates just how well he understands the game. He may have a baby-face right now, but after a few more playoff battle wounds, he could easily become a seasoned head coach in the league.
6. LeBron James
LeBron James has the talent to do anything he wants with his life after his playing days are over. His desire to become a billionaire is well-documented, and being a head coach certainly will not help him attain his financial aspirations, but LeBron is a basketball aficionado. The case for King James being a future coach one day is made even stronger based upon his interpersonal skills. Some star players, like Kobe Bryant, struggle to get along with certain types of people, however, LeBron’s dynamic personality and people skills naturally attracts a crowd. If he ever became a head coach, his playing legacy will command respect in and of itself, but so will his gregarious personality.
5. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is currently the President of the NBA Players Association, which means that he is already a leader on and off the court. Clearly, Paul cares about the state of the players and the state of the league. This automatically makes him a case to be a good head coach one day. Players can think about themselves, but coaches need to care about the entire team, and Chris Paul has already proven his love for the entire association. Combine that with his feisty personality and high IQ, and CP3 has all of the tools to become an excellent head coach. Additionally, Paul now has a great head coach in Doc Rivers to model his own coaching career after. Paul still has a long career ahead, but one day, he is going to be a fine head coach.
4. Steve Nash
At 40-years-old, Steve Nash can see the light at the end of the tunnel more clearly than ever. If his body lets him, Nash may play out his contract until the end of next year, but his career will most assuredly end by the 2015 season. And when all is said and done, the two-time MVP’s resume speaks for itself. Nash has gotten numerous teammates hefty contracts for every team that he has played for, so he obviously has the capability of making other players better. The whole point of coaching is making your players better and getting the most out of your ball club. So, if Nash cannot do it, then no one can.
3. Shane Battier
Shane Battier has the rhetoric skills and the articulateness of a politician. His charming personality and feel for the game, could easily make him a successful head coach in the NBA one day. Battier has always been a successful role player, and the reason for that is because he knew what he was and he knew what he wasn’t. Battier knew his strengths and he knew his weaknesses. This honest assessment of himself, makes him a high IQ player. Battier has never suffered from an over-inflated view of himself, which has always made him a team first player, and potentially, a team first coach. If you are an owner of a NBA team, there are not many other players that you would want to be as your spokesperson.
2. Chauncey Billups
Chauncey Billups has suffered from a myriad of injuries the past few seasons and has bounced around from team-to-team the past three years, so he is clearly at the end of his career. However, Billups is as good of a candidate as any player to make the transition from the NBA court to the NBA bench. A part of the reason why he was on the 2010 US Olympic team was because of his veteran leadership and his capacity to keep a team composed during pressure situations. If Billups displayed strong leadership on the floor, there is no reason why he cannot do so from the bench. And what better place to be the next head coach than the Detroit Pistons?
1. Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher refuses to retire. He is still contributing solid minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder and he is still hitting clutch shots like he is in practice. But eventually, his career will be over. Off the court, Fisher was the former president of the Player’s Association and was instrumental in getting a deal done during the lock-out season. He clearly has a love for the game and has the capacity to handle basketball related things off the court as well. Fisher holds the respect of everyone in the NBA and if he ever entered into the coaching ranks, it would be a seamless transition for him. Fisher has always been a winner and a hard worker and there is no reason why those things could not translate into a coaching role for him as well.
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