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The best NBA basketball coaches are …

Posted by TopOfTheThread on July 22, 2011

My buddy “PC”  made a comment recently about Mark Jackson getting the Golden State coaching  job.  He commented that point guards tend to make good coaches.   They are forced to really know the game and get everyone into the flow of the game.  It made sense but I decided to look for myself.

I looked at the NBA coaches with 300 and more wins. I looked at what position they played in college or professionally. I broke it out by guards, forwards, and centers,  I did not get more specific like point guard, shooting guard, power forward, etc…  There may be errors and I welcome all corrections.

I was not able to identify the appropriate information on all the coaches.

In the chart below, if there is a ‘?’, I simply did not know the answer.  If there is an ‘x’, I believe they did not play college or pro hoops.

  • There are 84 NBA Coaches who have 300 or more wins.
  • 46 of them played guard.  Please note, if someone played both forward and guard, they were counted for both positions.
  • (xx) 27 coaches either (a) did not play basketball, or (b) I could not determine the position he played.
  • 84 coaches minus the 27 (xx above) leaves us with 57 coaches to use in this exercise.

So 46 of the 57 coaches played the guard position in college or professional basketball.

80% of these NBA coaches played guard.  

That’s an amazing statistic; more than I would have expected.

(Note: I am sure the stats on these coaches are incomplete or inaccurate. Even if I’m off by 10%, that’s still pretty amazing.)

Name Position Note
Alvin Gentry^ ?
Bob Hill ? Bowling Green State University
Del Harris ? Milligan College
Gregg Popovich^ ? Air Force Academy
Jim O’Brien ? St Josephs
John MacLeod ? Bellarmine University
Lester Harrison ? Rochester Royals
Bill Russell Center
Hubie Brown Center Rochester Colonels
Joe Lapchick Center
Wes Unseld Center
Don Nelson^ Forward
Paul Silas^ Forward
Phil Jackson*^ Forward
Rudy Tomjanovich Forward
Alex Hannum* Forward-Center
Fred Schaus Forward-Center
Tom Heinsohn Forward-Center
Al Attles Guard
Al Cervi Guard
Bernie Bickerstaff Guard Univ Rio Grande
Bill Sharman* Guard
Billy Cunningham Guard
Bob Weiss Guard
Bobby Leonard Guard
Byron Scott^ Guard
Chris Ford Guard
Dick McGuire Guard
Doc Rivers^ Guard
Don Chaney Guard
Eddie Jordan Guard
Flip Saunders^ Guard
Gene Shue Guard
George Karl^ Guard
Isiah Thomas Guard Point
Jack McMahon Guard
Jerry Sloan* Guard
John Lucas Guard
K. C. Jones Guard
Kevin Loughery Guard
Larry Brown* Guard
Larry Costello Guard
Lenny Wilkens* Guard
Matt Guokas Guard
Maurice Cheeks Guard
Mike Brown^ Guard College Basketball Univ San Diego
Mike D’Antoni^ Guard
Mike Dunleavy Guard
Paul Seymour Guard
Paul Westphal^ Guard
Red Auerbach* Guard HS
Red Holzman* Guard
Richie Guerin Guard
Rick Adelman^ Guard
Rick Carlisle^ Guard
Rick Pitino Guard
Scott Skiles^ Guard
Mike Woodson Guard – Forward
Nate McMillan^ Guard – Forward
Allan Bristow Guard – Forward
Butch van Breda Kolff Guard – Forward
Doug Collins^ Guard – Forward
Doug Moe Guard – Forward
Pat Riley* Guard – Forward
Bill Fitch x
Brian Hill x
Chuck Daly* x
Cotton Fitzsimmons x
Dick Motta x
Edward Gottlieb x
Frank Layden x
Garry St. Jean x
Jack Ramsay* x
Jeff Van Gundy x
Jim Lynam x
John Kundla* x
Lawrence Frank x
Mike Fratello x college football
P. J. Carlesimo x
Paul Westhead x
Phil Johnson x
Stan Albeck x
Stan Van Gundy^ x
Tom Nissalke x
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