Who are the top 10 NBA head coaches in 2023-24? – NBC 6 South Florida

What makes an effective basketball head coach?

Is it their ability to strategize the X’s and O’s? Do they adjust well when Plan A is failing? Are their management skills top tier? Do they optimize their talent?

The truth is all of the above and more matter, but it’s rare to find a coach who can check every single box. After all, the NBA is filled with an abundance of talent and finding flaws in the opposition is inevitable.

But when push comes to shove, these coaches stand out above the rest. Let’s rank the top 10 NBA head coaches in 2023-24:

10. Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers

Carlisle may be old blood, but you don’t eclipse 900 wins if you’re not a good coach. Most of Carlisle’s best years happened more than a decade ago — he peaked with the 2011 NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks — and he might not reach those levels again, but the Pacers put him at the forefront of their rebuild for a reason. Indiana is young, energetic and plays appealing ball. If Carlisle has them pushing for a possible playoff spot this season, that’s a huge bonus.

9. Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings

Brown will forever be remembered for ending the Kings’ 16-year playoff drought in just his first year at the helm. The fast-paced Kings echoed their speedy point guard De’Aaron Fox en route to having the best regular-season offense in NBA history with their sky-high offensive rating. Brown’s biggest challenges have been making adjustments and strengthening Sacramento’s defense, but he’s clearly a great player manager who can create a positive culture and sets a high floor.

8. Monty Williams, Detroit Pistons

Like Indiana did with Carlisle, Detroit gave a lucrative bag to Williams to help change its fortunes. Williams stems from Gregg Popovich’s coaching tree, but the beginning of his head coaching career with New Orleans featured many ups and downs. Once he got a stable core in Phoenix, he entered Coach of the Year conversations and even got the Suns oh so close to their first ever championship. There are going to be more rocky seasons coming with Detroit, but he may be the one to rev up the Motor City.

7. Frank Vogel, Phoenix Suns

As far as underrated coaches go, Vogel surely has to be No. 1. His defenses are almost always elite and he gets role players playing at a high level. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his role in the Los Angeles Lakers’ title-winning season in 2019-20, and he didn’t really deserve to get fired after the front office scrapped the roster for an all-veteran approach. If the Suns can stay healthy, don’t be surprised if they post robust defensive numbers and remain in title conversations.

6. Nick Nurse, Philadelphia 76ers

Nurse won a title with the Toronto Raptors and temporarily put a pause on the Golden State Warriors’ dominance. But his last few seasons didn’t end well as the Raptors eventually became stale, leading him to join Philadelphia. It’s a long season, but the early signs for the Sixers are a huge plus, especially with Tyrese Maxey going a new level. If they find the right star to replace James Harden, or instead strengthen their depth in general, Nurse could help Philly overcome its playoff hump.

5. Tyronn Lue, Los Angeles Clippers

When it comes to scheming and managing players, Lue is up there with the very best. There’s a reason the Clippers can compete at a high level in times when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are not available. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 title will be remembered by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving putting on a clinic in key moments, but don’t underestimate Lue’s role, either. Lue now has a core of Leonard, George, Harden and Russell Westbrook, among others. Can he break the Clippers’ dry spell if everything pans out?

4. Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets

You can’t mention Malone without bringing up the Kings’ decision to fire him after a promising start in December of 2014. Their playoff drought may not have reached 16 years if they kept him around. But Malone proved why the Kings made a mistake by guiding the Denver Nuggets to the mountaintop last season, a place they were never familiar with their entire history. Malone’s Nuggets are one of the most complete teams in recent memory.

3. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

When it’s all said and done, Kerr’s role in the Warriors’ dynasty from 2015 to whenever it concludes will go down in the history books. He’s won four titles with the team, and just when you think Golden State will finally leave the equation and fade away, it comes storming back to prove that’s not the case. Kerr deserves credit for that aspect, and though he hasn’t seen much success in developing youngsters in recent years, he’s still as elite as they come.

2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat

From a video coordinator to a multi-time NBA champion, there’s no one like Spoelstra in the NBA. The Heat head coach is the best coach not named Popovich in the business. He’s one of the best tacticians the league has seen and his development record is second to none. His only titles may have come in the peak Miami “Big 3” years in the early 2010s, but he’s led Miami to two NBA Finals appearances since. Both ended in losses, but they simply ran into better teams led by better superstars. That’s not a slight on Spo.

1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

As long as Coach Pop is in San Antonio, no one can take his throne away. The five-time NBA champion continues to age like fine wine and is not at fault for the current Spurs rebuild. After all, he helped set a record with 22 straight winning seasons from 1998 to 2019. It was inevitably going to end. But just a few years into their lottery years, Victor Wembanyama landed in his lap to take charge of the next Spurs’ dynasty. Get Pop a point guard and watch them ascend.

Honorable mentions

Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics: Mazzulla, who took over after Ime Udoka’s remarkable first year, hasn’t missed a beat as the Celtics continue to be a force. The only quip on Mazzulla is his current inexperience. But if he maintains these levels, the sky is the limit for his future.

Will Hardy, Utah Jazz: Also stemming from the Celtics, Hardy last season made the Jazz a potent unit despite looking shaky on paper. That comes down to coaching, but, like Mazzulla, he needs more time under his belt before inserting him in top-10 conversations. It never hurts to potentially be ahead of the curve, though.


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