Coaches are leaders. Coaches are mentors. Coaches are tacticians. Coaches are father figures. Coaches are communicators. Coaches are jokesters and woke-sters (in the cases of Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich). Coaches are meme material (in the case of Doc Rivers). Coaches are disciplinarians (in the cases of Rick Carlisle and Tom Thibodeau). Coaches are punchlines (in the case of Tyronn Lue). But most importantly, coaches are winners and results-getters. Here are the coaches who have best lived up to that billing so far this season.
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
Don’t look now, but the Pistons are a top-four team in the league through 13 games. Here’s something even more remarkable: they currently sport both a top-10 offense and a top-10 defense. No other team in the East can say that, and only the Houston Rockets and our defending champions/dictators Golden State Warriors fall into that category out West. In fairness, Van Gundy has had the benefit of an improved roster: the addition of Avery Bradley, a more consistent and better all-around player than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the autumn miracle known as Tobias Harris’ awakening from the three-point line, to name a couple. But SVG’s strategical decisions deserve some love too.
He’s finally trusting Andre Drummond to play regular crunchtime minutes (perhaps due to that miraculous improvement from the free throw line). And though player development hasn’t been much of a strong suit for him in recent years, the Stan Man is getting fairly solid production from the likes of Stanley Johnson and rookie Luke Kennard. Yes, Detroit finally appears to be washing away the miasma of mediocrity that has haunted them throughout 2010s, so claim your spot on the Van Gundy bandwagon now before it gets full.
Jay Triano, Phoenix Suns