Ranking New NBA Coach Marriages


Jun 5, 2023

The NBA hiring cycle is not finished, with the Toronto Raptors taking their time, but five key positions have been filled.

Will the new hires elevate their squads? Are some destined for failure?

Here’s how we rank all five.

1. Nick Nurse – Philadelphia 76ers

Bringing in Nurse is a two-pronged win for the 76ers. First, Nurse is a championship-level coach whose offensive philosophy will be well-received in Philly. Nurse should elevate this roster after Doc Rivers’s brutal offensive scheming. Secondly, Nurse is not easy to play for. His uncompromising approach and the expectations he has for effort and minutes will push this 76ers team to the brink. If the players crack, the 76ers brass will know their core is weak and not championship caliber. Once Nurse’s tenure is over, 76ers’ fans will be left with a team that either finally got over the second-round curse, or that’s completely blown up. Nurse will deliver answers or a final solution to the process, something that’s a decade in the making.

2. Ime Udoka – Houston Rockets

Ime Udoka’s absence from the Boston Celtics this season was evident. Talent still won them 57 games, but anyone who follows the NBA closely could tell you that the team was a shell of last season’s. He’s a heck of a coach who understood what made the locker room tick. Houston has a ton of young talent to build around and a desirable market for top-level free agents. Udoka will be granted the time and patience to figure out the roster, and I’d be shocked if the Rockets didn’t make a deep playoff run in a few years.

3. Monty Williams – Detroit Pistons 

Monty Williams, stand up! After becoming the highest-paid coach in NBA history, Williams enters Detroit with zero expectations and complete job security. The Pistons won 17 games last year; no one expects a playoff birth next season. Detroit is amid a rebuild and still needs to bring in pieces, but Williams has three to four years for the Pistons to be competitive. By then, the Pistons should have enough talent to compete, and Williams will excel as a coach. If not, the money he’ll make will be well worth it.

4. Frank Vogel – Phoenix Suns

Frank Vogel’s hire is interesting because, after his hiring, the Suns made their top assistant Kevin Young the highest-paid assistant coach in basketball. Will Vogel have free range? Will he have loyalty from his players? It’s been reported that some Suns players internally vouched for Young’s candidacy, so how do you not worry about a potential internal power struggle? Also, who says Mat Ishbia won’t have him on a short leash if Vogel fails early? Vogel is proven as a coach, but I need to see an entire season play out before I know this was a good move.

5. Adrian Griffin – Milwaukee Bucks

I’m sure Adrian Griffin is a fine coach who will impact the Milwaukee Bucks, but I don’t see the needle moving much. Griffin’s hiring was surprising and unexpected in a coaching cycle with some marquee names. Coming from Nick Nurse’s system, Griffin is well respected and deserving of a chance to be a head coach, but how much better can the Bucks be? They already won a title with this core and had a flukey series against the Heat due to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s health, which led to a first-round exit. The Bucks won 58 games last year, so I have no reason to believe they’re in for regression. Still, how much better can Griffin make them? Winning more than 58 games is hard in the NBA! What can he provide that Mike Budenholzer couldn’t?

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

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