How did NBA coaches stack up?

What's a coach worth?

It's one of sports' great mysteries.

Advanced stats gurus have wrestled with coaching analytics for years, but there's still virtually no objective measure to rate the guys who draw up the plays and manage the egos apart from titles and rings.

Our ESPN Forecast panel took a stab at the exercise and collectively ranked all 30 NBA head coaches.


Who finished on top?

The San Antonio Spurs completed a clean sweep of all three front office categories -- owner, execs and coach -- with Gregg Popovich far and away the top choice of our experts as the league's top coach.

There was quite a bit of distance between Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau at No. 2 and the rest of the pack, including a few who own championship rings -- the Los Angeles Clippers' Doc Rivers at No. 3, the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra at No. 4, and the Dallas Mavericks' Rick Carlisle, who finished in a dead heat at the fifth spot with the Indiana Pacers' Frank Vogel.


Who finished at the bottom?

John Loyer of the Detroit Pistons clearly wasn't helped by the "interim" tag, as he pulled up the rear.

Four coaches presiding over teams that are currently a combined 102 games below .500 rounded out the top five. Larry Drew of the Milwaukee Bucks came in at No. 29; Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks at No. 28; Tyrone Corbin of the Utah Jazz at No. 27.

Four years ago, Mike Brown was putting the finishing touches on a 61-21 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but our panelists cut him zero slack, slotting him at No. 26.


So the panel didn't take care of the luminaries in the field?

Not really.

Mike D'Antoni has arguably had more stylistic influence on the game as any coach alive, but voters ranked him No. 20, something that was unthinkable less than a decade ago. Coaches around the league frequently cite Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman as their offensive inspiration, but panelists situated him in the No. 17 spot.


What about the newbies?

For the most part, they were ranked based on how their teams have performed relative to expectations.

For instance, Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns and Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Bobcats ranked No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.

The Boston Celtics haven't won a lot of games this season, but voters gave a pass to Brad Stevens at No. 11. Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer and Memphis' Dave Joerger finished in the middle of the pack at Nos. 14 and 15.

Had the panel been polled on Thanksgiving Eve when Jason Kidd intentionally spilled a soft drink on the floor at Barclays Center, he might have been relegated to the bottom five. But the Brooklyn Nets' recent turnaround managed to snag him a respectable No. 18 landing.

Mike Malone of the Sacramento Kings, Brian Shaw of the Denver Nuggets and Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers fared less well, each finishing in the bottom 10.

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