The most unbiased top 10 NBA head coaches


The debate over who the top 10 coaches of the NBA has been a very long debate for too long and here I try to end that debate comparing each coach’s stats.

Ranking all of the coaches in the NBA right now is a highly debatable topic between both the media and fans of the NBA. Most rankings are either highly controversial or fail to recognize great coaches such as Rick Carlisle or Scott Brooks. This ranking will have four factors that will go with it which will be explained below. I also have made a table of the unarguably top 20 coaches in the NBA. This is so that I can show how each factor will affect every coach’s position. I also have to mention that newly hired coaches like Monty Williams and Frank Vogel will not be included because of their lack of experience with the current team.

First Factor: Team Success

The first factor I considered is team success. For example, Gregg Popovich, the GOAT of all coaches, has led the Spurs to 22 straight NBA Playoffs and has only missed the playoffs one time.

Second Factor: Overachieving

The second factor taken into account is the coaches ability to exceed expectations with their respective team. Steve Clifford, for example, overachieved with the Hornets team when he had no all-stars on his team (Big Al should have made it). He also led his team to a 7-game series against the Miami Heat. I would argue that the 2015-16 Hornets team should’ve probably upset the Heat if it weren’t for some controversial calls. This isn’t really a stat you can calculate, but it can be easy to tell if a team has overachieved.


Third Factor: Championships Won

The third factor is the number of championships these head coaches have won. Steve Kerr did have the greatest team ever at his disposal, but him being able to keep them together and win championships makes him special. Some coaches such as Mike D’Antoni prove to be coaches with a great feel for the game but somehow always come up short. The Phoenix Suns during the Nash era never made the NBA Championship. The allegedly next Showtime Lakers in the mid-2010s never even sniffed past the first round. And his current team, the Houston Rockets, came very close last year but the team has consistently underachieved when big moments arise.

Fourth Factor: Longevity

I believe that the longer a coach stays with a team, the better. Erik Spoelstra, Rick Carlisle and especially Gregg Popovich have experienced huge praise over what they have done with their respective teams over the years. Erik Spoelstra always manages to surprise us every year with his Miami Heat. Rick Carlisle always keeps games very close even though the Mavs intend on losing every game for a better pick. And Gregg Popovich leads his team to the playoffs every season despite the uncertainty of making the playoffs.


The Statistics

Combining all of these factors, I made a table viewable with this link. I recommend looking at this table before considering the rank of each coach. Also, all stats obtained are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

The Unbiased Ranking

So with all of that out of way here are my rankings for the top 10 coaches of the NBA. My friend, Austin, helped me make this as well so go give him a follow and read some of his future articles. Some of them might be controversial, but I don’t really like counting the Western or Eastern Conference Championships so that might affect some coaches’ position. I am also going to do tie-breakers as some of them are too hard to separate.

Tier 1: Gregg Popovich

1. Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich.

Tier 2: Championship Level Guys

2. Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr has had one of the most successful beginnings we have seen since Gregg Popovich. He has coached his team to 3 championships in 5 years and guided his team to the best record in NBA history.


3. Erik Spoelstra

Erik Spoelstra is probably one of the most disrespected head coaches in recent history. I will always remember him as one of the greats because of being able to survive even after LeBron left. He has an above average win percentage in both the playoffs and the regular season despite having some injury prone and bad rosters.

4. Doc Rivers


I used to disrespect Doc Rivers until I saw what happened this season. Sure you can say that it is probably part of the magic that Jerry West brings to the table, but he has shown in the past the ability to lead a team to the promised land. Doc Rivers is not an overrated coach and definitely deserves to be in the top five.

5. Rick Carlisle

If it were not for tanking seasons, we could be seeing Rick Carlisle in the top 3. Rick has had success recently but throughout the past, he has displayed his greatness. Even throughout this year, he has shown glimpses that he still is a coaching great. Coaches throughout the NBA still respect him. This included Gregg Popovich who was ‘flattered’ when Rick Carlisle called Popovich “the greatest coach in NBA history.”

6. Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens has made the most out of his depleted rosters throughout his coaching career. Basically, with a bunch of nobodies (except Gordon Hayward), he was able to lead Butler to the promised land although the could not complete the upset. He guided a very young and injured Celtics squad twice to the Eastern Conference Finals. Kyrie Irving has also been detrimental to the promising Celtics roster as he has not fit into Stevens’ pass-first system.

7. Nick Nurse

Nick Nurse finally did what no Raptors coach, even Dwane Casey, could do before him. That is bringing the NBA Championship to Toronto for the first time in franchise history. Nick Nurse is still unproven as a coach but since he won a championship, I had to add him in tier two.

Tier 3: Coaches that Could Win, are on the Down-Trend, or are Just Unproven

8. Scott Brooks

Scott Brooks is definitely on the downtrend in my opinion, but he still has a chance to redeem himself. He has made the playoffs more times than not and had an injury prone Wizards team last year. The question is whether or not he will be able to improve the Wizards locker room problems and lead the Wizards back into playoff contention

9. Billy Donovan

People give Billy Donovan a lot of hate for not being able to guide the Thunder past the Western Conference Finals. Through my research, I have realized that we should cut him some slack at least for a couple more years. He has helped his team get to the playoffs all his four years there and has averaged an above .600 record in the regular season.

10. Mike D’Antoni

Mike D’Antoni is a very smart coach and has been in the league for a very long time. Mike D’Antoni has proven that he has the ability to guide a team to a high seed and has done it consistently throughout his career. The problem with this is that while the regular season is somewhat important because of home-court, he has never reached the NBA Finals in his long tenure as a head coach.

Honorable Mentions: Above Average just not in the Top 10

Terry Stotts, Mike Budenholzer, and Quin Snyder


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