With Avery Johnson recently being hired by the Nets, and Mark Jackson in contention for the Hawks job, former NBA players continue to populate the coaching ranks. With this steady diet of former players becoming coaches, who are the next five NBA coaches who will be former NBA players? We break it down here:
Shane Battier is the NBA’s quintessential good guy. He is an incredibly smart player who plays the right way and does whatever his coach asks of him without ever questioning him. His fellow players all admire him, and he is the captain of the Rockets, a title he earned last year when he led the team to a seven-game series versus the Lakers despite playing without Yao and T-Mac. Battier was made to be an NBA head coach, and everybody knows it. He will be a highly sought after commodity in a few years.
Kobe Bryant recently said that Derek Fisher is the only player on the Lakers who he listens to. That speaks volumes about Fisher’s work ethic and attitude toward the game. He is the ultimate competitor who has a knack for coming up clutch. He is a natural leader at the point guard position and has proven to be a stabilizing force for the Lakers over the years. Phil Jackson has also shown how much trust he has in Fisher by refusing to bench him despite people saying that he is washed up. Fisher will make a great coach one day because he inspires trust in people, and has earned the respect of everyone he has ever played with.
Grant Hill nearly had his career upended by an ankle injury which cost him a lot of his prime in the 2000’s. He has rebounded nicely with the Suns for the past few seasons, and his second career and time off have made him wiser and more appreciative of the game. Hill goes hard every night, and like Battier, does what his coach asks of him – which is surprising considering superstar status early in his career. As you’ve seen in Phoenix, he was more than willing to become the Suns’ defensive stopper. A good guy, with a Duke background, Hill has what it takes to be an effective NBA head coach.
Trenton Hassell is the consummate professional. He has bounced around in his career but fulfilled his role wherever he has gone. Last year, while playing for the dismal Nets, Hassell would frequently go from starting one game to being benched the next three. It was a season of up-and-downs, not just for him but the entire team, yet he never complained and never requested a trade. He is like Avery Johnson, a guy from a small school who has stuck in the NBA, and his professionalism throughout his career certainly has caught the attention of people around the League.
Kurt Thomas has served as a mentor to players wherever he has gone. The past few seasons he has provided veteran leadership to the Sonics, Spurs, and this past season to the Bucks. Wherever he goes, he is immediately one of the leaders of the team, and this leadership and the tendency for younger guys to look up to him will translate well for Thomas when he decides to hang up his shoes.
What do you think? What current NBA players would make great coaches?
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