Rookies and Vets: A Glimpse of New Head Coaches
Fred Hoiberg,Chicago Bulls
*Photo via AP
Fred Hoiberg was a college player at Iowa State University, who went on to have a ten-year career in the NBA. After his final season with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005, he joined their front office. That gig lasted until 2010, when he returned to his Alma Mater at Iowa State to become the new head coach.
Hoiberg made an immediate impact, some say like a cyclone (sorry). In the last four years at Iowa State, Hoiberg led the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament, and one appearance in the Sweet 16. In 2012, he was the Big 12 Co – Coach of the Year, and later in 2014, Hoiberg became the fastest coach in Iowa State history to eclipse 100 wins.
The Chicago Bulls took notice. Maybe because of the fact that Iowa State had an offensive play called “Bull”. No, no that wasn’t why. Hoiberg landed the Bulls head coaching job, because he ran a creative pro-style offense with a lot of motion built into their set plays that created top level efficiency.
At 42, he’s young, but Hoiberg has a lot of potential to make some noise in the volatile Eastern Conference. Bobby Portis is a nice addition out of Arkansas, who can add some offensive potency to an already dynamic frontcourt within the new Hoiberg system.
Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets
*Photo via USA Today
Michael Malone should have been featured in those State Farm commercials, because he truly was born to assist. Up until the 2013 – 2014 NBA season, Malone had always been an assistant coach. He was an assistant at the college level at Providence, and bounced around a few NBA teams doing the same.
However, he was quite good at it. Malone was reported to be the highest – paid NBA assistant in the 2011 – 2012 season, and was named best assistant coach by NBA General Managers. He was hired in 2013 as the head coach for the Sacramento Kings, but was later fired the following season for an 11–13 start.
The Denver Nuggets have given Michael Malone a new peak to climb. He knows what it takes to win, since he was a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers 2007 NBA Finals run. And he’s helped develop some Super Saiyan type players like LeBron James.
Emmanuel Mudiay has been torching the NBA summer league, and can be an instant impact for Malone. The Nuggets may be starting to rebuild around a few key players, so Malone will have to be an intricate part to make that process successful.
Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
*Photo via Getty Images
Much like Michael Malone, Alvin Gentry served as an assistant coach in the league for number of teams. He started out on the San Antonio Spurs staff under head coach Larry Brown, along with fellow assistant Gregg Popovich. A few teams later, and Gentry was sitting on the bench of the Phoenix Suns, assisting head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Gentry took the reins in 2009, and lead to the Suns to a scorching record of 54–28. He slowed down the offense, and emphasized activity on defense, which guided the Suns to the 2010 Western Conference Finals. Gentry most recently supported Steve Kerr along the championship path with the Golden State Warriors this past June.
The New Orleans Pelicans acquired themselves a seasoned veteran, who has coached Hall of Fame players and facilitated legendary coaches. Gentry is also going to a playoff caliber team. The Warriors, who ironically featured Gentry on their coaching staff, booted the Pelicans in the first round of these past playoffs.
Anthony Davis is the sensational unibrow monster, who recently signed the most lucrative NBA contract in history. As a member of the All–NBA First Team, Davis is the obvious focal point, but the Pelicans boast some respectable talent around him. With a nice balance of experience and youth, Gentry could be a key ingredient for the Pelicans’ playoff run recipe.
Scott Skiles, Orlando Magic
*Photo via Getty Images
Never heard of Scott Skiles? He only currently holds the NBA record for most assists in a game (30). Other than that statistic, Skiles had a decent ten years in the NBA from 1986 – 1996, playing for five different teams. Yet, he made the jump to a head coach relatively quickly.
His most successful season as a head coach came in his second year with the Phoenix Suns in 2000, when they won 51 games. Since then, Skiles has led the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks to relatively mediocre seasons, with the exception of a few playoff appearances over a 12-year span.
The Orlando Magic’s foundation is being set. However, the recent trade of Maurice Harkless to the Portland Trailblazers was head scratching, and contradicted the organization’s ambitions of building a young core. Yet, Orlando’s youthful arsenal still features the likes of Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Aaron Gordon, whose ages range from 19 – 23. It’s a good thing Disney World’s so close.
Skiles might be bringing Capri Suns and orange slices to practice, but there’s one “P–word” about this team that gets him excited. And that’s Potential. They have the potential of many playoff appearances, which could lead to the franchise’s first NBA Title.
Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
*Photo via AP
He’s back! Well, kind of. We all remember in 2007, when Billy Donovan had an introductory press conference with the Orlando Magic, then informed the organization the next day that he had changed his mind.
Disregarding that 07’ NBA hiccup, Donovan is a decorated college head coach. He coached the University of Florida from 1996 – 2015. And in those 19 years, came back–to–back National Championships in 2006 and 2007, as well as SEC Coach of the Year three separate times.
Donovan has won countless accolades at the collegiate level, and is ready to compete against some of the best basketball minds in the world. He’ll have his hands full in that brutal Western Conference, but any team stands a chance with a healthy Kevin Durant. That being said, the Oklahoma City Thunder really struck a good one in Donovan.
Barring any injuries, the Thunder are too talented to not contend for a deep playoff run. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka will carry the load if some role players falter, but it’s in close games where great coaches press the right buttons. And Billy Donovan has pressed his fair share of good buttons.