Feb 21, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks with guard Archie Goodwin (20) on the sidelines against the San Antonio Spurs in the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Spurs 106-85. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NBA Rookie Coach of the Year Race

This NBA season has quite a few coaches making their debuts. So, if only for this season, let’s talk about these rookie coaches and see who deserves Rookie Coach of the Year honors.

Let’s look at the list of candidates:

  • Brett Brown (Sixers)
  • Mike Budenholzer (Hawks)
  • Steve Clifford (Bobcats)
  • Jeff Hornacek (Suns)
  • Dave Joerger (Grizzlies)
  • Jason Kidd (Nets)
  • Mike Malone (Kings)
  • Brian Shaw (Nuggets)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Now, there is one more guy. His name is John Loyer. However, he took over a Pistons team that fired their coach recently. Loyer’s only coached 10 games vs the 58-60 games by the other coaches.

Okay, so, we have nine guys. That’s almost a 3rd of the league with new coaches. The three best teams are the Suns, Nets, and Grizzlies, in my opinion. But, and we should know this by now, the best team doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best coach.

If I had to pick the winner today, it would have to be Hornacek or Budenholzer. I think both of those coaches were dealt with not ideal hands and made them work. Somebody like Shaw or Joerger took a proven team and hasn’t quite been able to get the same results. Brad Stevens has done well with his team. Without Rondo, the Celtics are not much. Jeff Green has been good for them though. Kidd started off poorly, but now the Nets are gearing up for the playoffs and, with all that experience on the roster, I wouldn’t want to face them. Here’s a team that is unphased by “home court” advantage. They’ve won plenty of playoff games together and such. Been there and done that. So, for Kidd, he got the benefit of having the most experienced team to coach out of these new guys. And that can make things easier, if you have the players’ respect.

Brett Brown made something out of nothing to start the season. But, as much of a good coach that he is, you can’t do much if your team is simply terrible. The Sixers have currently lost 15 straight, the most for any team this season. Heck, their franchise longest losing streak is 20. And it looks very possible. But, again, you can’t blame it on the coach. Plus, we know all about how the Sixers are clearly blowing this team up to nothing. The Sixers are also the youngest team in league history. Coaching a bunch of inexperienced players, while trying to learn how to be a head coach isn’t easy.

Steven Clifford is making the Al Jefferson thing work. The Bobcats started off fairly strong before falling back. However, it seems like they will make the playoffs this season. And Clifford deserves some credit for that.

Mike Malone is interesting. I would say he’s a good coach. Like Brown, he’s got a team that isn’t very good. They aren’t good. But, you can see the principles in the style of play. It makes you wonder how good the team will be with the right players in the system.

Okay, so here’s my RCOY rankings:

  1. Jeff Hornacek
  2. Mike Budenholzer
  3. Brad Stevens
  4. Steve Clifford
  5. Jason Kidd
  6. Brett Brown
  7. Brian Shaw
  8. Dave Joerger
  9. Mike Malone

Alright, so hit the comments! Give me your top rookie coaches. Also, do you think any of these guys will be great at what they do? Popovich…Jackson…Karl…Rivers, and other “elite” coaches (not to say they will be better but, tens years from now, will they be on top?). Give me your thoughts!

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics Brad Stevens Brett Brown Brooklyn Nets Charlotte Bobcats Denver Nuggets Jason Kidd Jeff Hornacek Memphis Grizzlies Mike Budenholzer Philadelphia 76ers Phoenix Suns Sacramento Kings

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