Cohen: What to Look For in a Coach

By Josh Cohen
May 30, 2012


ORLANDO -- In the coming weeks after the Orlando Magic decide on a new general manager, the process of selecting a new head coach will emerge.

There are a heap of potential candidates that may or may not be serious contenders for the position.

From the very experienced – Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Nate McMillan, Scott Skiles, Mike D’Antoni – to the blossoming – Michael Malone, Brian Shaw – there is no shortage of qualified aspirants to choose from.

While there has not been much dialogue about current collegiate coaches and whether any of the top names may be in the running for this position, one must wonder if any will eventually surface.

When deciding on a head coach to minister an NBA team, what criteria on an applicant’s resume is most decisive, most essential and most striking?

Just like it is for any job, employers want their staff to be as multifaceted as possible: Talented, Diligent, Punctual, Charismatic, Confident, Knowledgeable, etc. etc.

It was very apparent that Stan Van Gundy, for example, was impeccable when it came to strategy and preparation. He always had his team ready under all circumstances.

But, it was also glaring that he seemed to struggle relating to his players which caused some tension through the years.

Generally speaking and naturally Jackson, who chose to retire from the Lakers after last season, is excluded from this debate, but which of the three descriptions intrigues you most when hiring a new coach?

    1) An experienced NBA coach who has been around for years and has dealt with practically everything that a coach has to contend with in such a grueling and competitive league. One who has already served as an NBA head coach, but was recently relieved of his duties for ineffective performance.

    2) An inexperienced coach who has been learning under head coaches about what it takes to succeed in the NBA. One who hasn’t had to take on an overwhelming amount of pressure or responsibility but has the potential to flourish in such a role.

    3) A championship level coach at a lower level (NCAA) that has succeeded at this echelon but has either not had the opportunity to showcase his skills in the NBA or has previously failed in his attempt to thrive in the professional ranks.

Perhaps it all depends on the roster. If an organization has a championship-caliber squad, maybe it’s best to choose a coach with a ton of NBA practice. On the other hand, if a franchise is rebuilding, it may be most effective to hire someone who has the potential to be great rather than someone who has crashed before.

One also must weigh in mind that while coaches gain a ton of credit when they win titles, they usually have such enormous success when they have illustrious players.

Jackson, for instance, had Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant – not to mention Scottie Pippen and Pau Gasol – to claim those 11 rings.

Sure, irrespective of how much talent you may have to play with it’s always difficult to be the last team standing. But, let’s also be pragmatic, if your mailman or accountant had guys like Jordan, Shaq and Kobe on his or her team, he or she could become the greatest coach ever too.

Would you prefer Kentucky’s John Calipari or Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun (the last two NCAA championship coaches who either have botched previous NBA endeavors or simply have never had such an opportunity) or experienced NBA coaches like D’Antoni or McMillan (years of NBA experience, but recently failed with their last teams)?

Remember, the Magic nearly had a championship collegiate coach running the show before Billy Donovan decided to return to the Florida Gators in 2007.

It’s a very engaging argument – one that deserves some polling for sure.

Below are eight coaches. In each matchup, one figure is an experienced NBA coach currently out of work, another is a young, unproven assistant without much of a resume and another is a prestigious collegiate coach with very little or zero NBA experience under his name.

Vote on who you would prefer to be a head coach of an NBA team. And bear in mind that just because certain coaches are involved in this poll does NOT mean they are necessarily going to be candidates for the open coaching position in Orlando.

WHO WOULD YOU PREFER?



Who would you prefer?
Who would you prefer?
Latest Opinions
Who would you prefer?
Who would you prefer?
Latest Opinions



Who would you prefer?
Who would you prefer?
Latest Opinions
Who would you prefer?
Who would you prefer?
Latest Opinions








Follow Josh Cohen on Twitter here