Assembling a new coaching staff
It started with understanding what went wrong with the last coach and making sure his processor doesn’t turn out to be the same thing. From the outside looking in, Steve Kerr’s stature seemed very similar to Mark Jackson’s.
Neither had any prior coaching experience before taking the job. Both players were point guards despite the contrast in style of play. They were both fresh out of the broadcast booth as well, Jackson for ESPN and the Kerr for TNT.
Golden State wanted to originally hire a coach with experience. If the Warriors were going to fire Jackson for someone to help lead the Warriors into a higher direction, it would only make sense to hire a veteran. Stan Van Gundy was the lead candidate.
While it looked good on paper, Van Gundy wanted more power. He wanted to make decisions and be the lead guy for that role. The Warriors did not want to have Bob Myers take a smaller role, so the job was off the table and Van Gundy went to Detroit to coach the Pistons.
Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks were in full pursuit of hiring Kerr, but for whatever odd reason, were not able to complete a deal quick enough. The Warriors were aggressive, and it came down to a close decision for Kerr before he ultimately chose to move to the Bay Area and coach the Dubs.
The hire annoyed most Warrior fans, especially when they found out he was inked to a five year, $25 million contract.
A few different characteristics separated Kerr from Jackson:
- Kerr was a five time NBA champion
- He came well prepared for his interview, with stacks of paperwork that contained information about the Warriors
- He didn’t come in and try to play the hero role
- Kerr allowed the team to continue some of the same rituals they had when Jackson was the coach
- He hired trusted veterans to help him develop as a coach
- He actually moved to the Bay Area and didn’t give the team random days off
- Ball movement was heavily emphasized, raising the assists per game total from 17.5 to 19.9 and lowering the turnovers from 13.8 to 13.1 in the process
- Kerr wasn’t afraid to make former All-Stars in David Lee and Andre Iguodala come off the bench in favor of younger players who needed the minutes
- His attitude with management wasn’t stubborn or carried an ego
Kerr didn’t join the Warriors and command respect immediately. He understood what the team had just gone through. He took the time to reach out to each player individually, even if that meant having to fly to another country to do so.
The respect came quickly. Stephen Curry said that this season was the most fun he has ever had playing basketball, and he credited that to Coach Kerr.
Alvin Gentry (who will coach the New Orleans Pelicans next year) has been the offensive mastermind behind the improved scheme. Kerr and him both took pages out of their own books and combined it to help the Warriors become the best jump shooting team of all-time.
Ron Adams is one of the most respected coaches in the league and was not afraid to let players know they were terrible defenders. Leandro Barbosa, David Lee, and even Curry all displayed the best defense of their careers this year. Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green both made All NBA Defensive teams, and Green finished as runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Kerr has done a tremendous job and nearly won Coach of the Year. He also coached the Western Conference All-Stars in February. When you go from looking overpaid to underpaid in a matter of a few months, you know you’re doing something right.
The Steve Kerr hire was the icing on the cake. He now has a ring to show for it.