Jay Wright is the NBA’s next hot coaching hire
Whenever a coach comes into the NBA they always come along with some generic narratives. They tell the media that they’ll be looking to “change the culture.” That normally gets followed by some statements about “winning basketball,” or about how they plan to “push the pace and play up-tempo.”
Few of the coaches can actually make great amazing impacts in this league, but the ones that do become some of the most important people in the league. Just as an example, what Gregg Popovich has done in San Antonio establishing over two decades of success.
Most recently, take a look at the impact that Steve Kerr has done with the Golden State Warriors. He helped take the team over the top and sparked a dynasty. Over in the Eastern Conference, Brad Stevens helped changed the Boston Celtics‘ culture and are now considered a budding contender.
The NBA’s next hot coaching candidate is Jay Wright, who has the ability to have a similar-like impact for a franchise when he chooses to entertain a job at the next level.
How can Jay Wright make such an impact?
When you look at Jay Wright’s run at Villanova, it’s amazing to see how he completely built a program virtually on his own. Wright built Villanova to being in the NIT tournament, eventually making the NCAA tournament and then winning two National Championships.
Building Villanova came from Wright’s concepts of culture and play. Jay Wright didn’t have the position to consistently get 5-star future NBA recruits on his roster so he turned to other things to breed winning. Wright looks for high-character, hard-working players that fit the team’s term of “attitude.” He simply gets guys that will buy-in.
That’s no different than what Gregg Popovich has done in the NBA. Coach Pop consistently looks for players that pass their process for being coachable, good people. That is why the Spurs have won so consistently without always having as much talent as their opponents. Players come in, they know their roles, and they work hard.
Jay Wright can bring that same atmosphere to an NBA team that he joins, along with some of the freedom and reliability that Steve Kerr brought to Golden State. He’s a likable person who can connect with players and bring them to their potential.
As for his system, we know that the modern NBA is about playing with pacing and space which is what Jay Wright has defined over his run with Villanova. Wright’s “4-out, 1-in” system is perfect for quick decision making, movement, and 3-point shooting.
Villanova’s offense under Wright broke the NCAA record for most 3’s made in a season back in 2018 and consistently leads the NCAA in that category. His philosophy is that his players will never be more open than when they first get the ball so he encourages them to shoot.
This system in the NBA would work wonders especially with a young team looking for establishment. A look at what Wright’s offense could be in the NBA would be the Phoenix Suns. Wright was high on their lists for head coaches but when Wright stayed at Villanova, the team hired Monty Williams.
Williams has the Suns playing an offense similar to Wright’s and there’s no question Williams might have picked up some it from being so close to Wright when working for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Wright would bring his system to the NBA and it would be hard for opposing teams to really stop. The pace of play would be quick, there would be an emphasis on shooting from deep, and Wright’s offense in more reliant on players making their own smart sequences in the offense rather than set plays.
How attainable is Wright?
The hardest part of this whole situation is that Wright is comfortable at Villanova. He has stated that the idea of the NBA does interest him but he’s happy where he is now. You could make the argument that it’s only half-true.
What Jay Wright needs is the perfect scenario. There’s no way he wants to leave the program he built to fail and flame out like John Beilein recently did or like Rick Pitino did when tried to make the jump.
If a team came along with the right combination of talent, front office, and ownership, there’s a good chance to actually get Wright. Obviously, one scenario that has been talked about a lot with Wright is Philadelphia.
The Chicago Bulls is another possible landing spot as they’re a marquee franchise that is looking to revive itself back to championship glory.
The Bulls recent hire of president Arturas Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley have given the team a revamped front office. Both of these men come from the experience of building recent contenders in Denver and Philadelphia. Eversley with his roots in Philly might even be able to make a good run at Wright.
This front office is also pushing for a collaborative process which would mean that Wright could even have input on draft picks, free agents, and trades.
Most importantly is Chicago’s roster. Chicago has an intriguing mix of young talent. Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, Chandler Hutchinson, and Wendell Carter Jr. are all under 25. This team along with another lottery player would be able to learn and grow under Wright.
They have the skill sets to do a lot of what Wright likes to do with his offense and that would be a significant draw to the National Champion coach.
With the Bulls, there’s a path to success in NBA that would be long-term. Wright can rebuild the championship culture that Chicago has been looking for ever since Micheal Jordan retired. Wright’s system and coaching combined with excellent drafting and scouting from the front office could actually make the Bulls a long-term powerhouse again.
Jay Wright may not want to leave Villanova right now, but if he decides to he’ll have his pick of any job in the NBA he wants. In the right spot, Wright might just become one of the best coaches in the NBA.