NBA

Who are the best coaches in the NBA entering the 2021-22 season?

We're just weeks away from training camp opening ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, the landmark 75th anniversary season for the league.

Seven teams will be under new head coaches, including five first-time coaches and ahead of the new season, we've compiled our list of the best coaches in the NBA, as voted upon by our NBA.com Global Staff.

These rankings were a collaborative effort, with eight members of our staff submitting a list of who they believe are the top 30 coaches in the league after a busy offseason.

Each first-place vote was worth 30 points, second-place votes worth 29 points, third-place votes worth 28 points and so on until 30th place, where votes are worth one point.

So without further ado, here's the top 10.

10. Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Highest rank: 8

Lowest rank: 14

The Knicks vaulted back into relevancy last season, making their first playoff appearance in seven seasons and finishing with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference and Tom Thibodeau deserves a ton of credit.

Thibs instilled his defence-first mindset into the Knicks as they brought the physical, hard-hat style back to MSG, finishing with the fourth-best defence in the league, while helping Julius Randle blossom into an All-Star.

The whole roster bought into what Thibodeau was trying to do and it yielded immediate results. Now with an improved roster heading into the 2021-22 season, the Knicks are here to stay,

9. Frank Vogel, Los Angeles Lakers

Highest rank: 6

Lowest rank: 13

The Lakers went out in the first round last season, but injuries played a bigger role in that than anything on the coaching side. Let's not forget, just a season ago, Vogel led the Lakers to the NBA championship.

Now with a nearly entirely new group of players alongside the foundations of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Vogel has a veteran team at his disposal, but making the pieces all fit together is going to make for interesting viewing in 2021-22. Can he get them to buy into the defensive identity that led them to a ring in 2020?

T-7. Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz

Highest rank: 5

Lowest rank: 12

While the Jazz went out in the second round of the playoffs last season, they were by far and away the best team in the regular season, finishing with a league-best record of 52-20.

Not only were the Jazz winning games, they were getting it done on both ends of the court with the third-best defence and fourth-best offence, fueled by Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

The Jazz have improved in every season under Snyder and he's proven he can win games in the regular season, but 2021-22 will be focused on converting that into postseason success.

T-7. Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers

Highest rank: 4

Lowest rank: 14

Carlisle is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the NBA in recent years and after taking the young Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs for the last two seasons, he now faces a fresh challenge in Indiana.

Injuries have derailed the Pacers over the past few campaigns, but with a healthy Malcolm Brogdon, TJ warren, Caris Levert, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner lineup at his disposal, Carlisle could make the Pacers one of the surprise teams in the East if they can stay on the floor together.

6. Ty Lue, LA Clippers

Highest rank: 4

Lowest rank: 11

While the Clippers haven't yet turned the superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George into NBA champions, Ty Lue deserves plenty of credit for taking them to their first-ever Western Conference Finals appearance in the franchise's history.

With Leonard struggling with injuries last season, it could have been a different story for Lue, but with a wide-open Western Conference this season, I expect the Clippers to be there at the business end of the season once again.

5. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

Highest rank: 2

Lowest rank: 11

Five straight trips to the Finals and three rings later, Kerr has been the most successful coach in the NBA over the past decade, but the past two seasons have been well below par, going 54-83 over that span.

Injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have derailed the Warriors in the span, but with the Splash Brothers back to full health, the Warriors look ready to resume their place in the top tier of Western Conference teams.

4. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

Highest rank: 1

Lowest rank: 14

Among the highest-rated coaches, Popovich had the biggest disparity in voting, and given the Spurs inability to make the playoffs in consecutive years after a record 22-straight appearances, that is somewhat justified, however, the roster right now looks nothing like the ones that dominated for multiple generations.

With Patty Mills leaving in the off-season, the last of the Spurs' title-winning players departs, officially bringing forth a new era in San Antonio as they look to continue to develop their young core of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson.

3. Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns

In just two seasons, Monty Williams lifted the Suns from a 19-win team to the NBA Finals - a remarkable achievement given the franchise's once bleak outlook.

The addition of Chris Paul and the continued development of Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton has turned the Suns into legitimate title contenders and perhaps way ahead of schedule.

Now they have a taste of the big stage, the Suns young players have been emboldened by the trust Williams showed in them during their playoff run. Sure, Paul will be one year older, but I expect Phoenix will prove last season was no fluke.

Highest rank: 2

Lowest rank: 14

2. Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors

Highest rank: 2

Lowest rank: 6

Is there a coach that gets more out his players than Nick Nurse?

For all the creative Xs and Os, in-game management and box and-1's, Nick Nurse has been a success in Toronto getting his troops to play above themselves, e.g. Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby and give younger players a license to express themselves, i.e Chris Boucher.

Armed with No.4 overall draft pick Scottie Barnes, I'm excited to see what Nurse does with the talented forward in his rookie campaign as the Raptors look to go from the lottery back into the post-season.

1. Erick Spoelstra, Miami Heat

Highest rank: 1

Lowest rank: 2

The Miami Heat coach was nearly a unanimous decision with just two second-place votes in our rankings and it's easy to see why he was he received 46 percent of the votes for best head coach in last season's GM survey.

Spoelstra is the picture of consistency and already boasts one of the best coaching resumes in the league and after taking the Heat to the NBA Finals in 2020, this season they look like the team best placed to unseat the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets at the top of the East.

In recent years, Spoelstra's teams have overachieved, but the current roster boasts the most talent he's had since the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh years. Sure there's a lot of new pieces to fit together, but Spoelstra has a proven track record of making things work within his system.

The Final List

Rank Player Team Points
1 Erik Spoelstra Miami Heat 238
2 Nick Nurse Toronto Raptors 223
3 Monty Williams Phoenix Suns 209
4 Gregg Popovich San Antonio Spurs 207
5 Steve Kerr Golden State Warriors 197
6 Ty Lue LA Clippers 193
T-7 Quin Snyder Utah Jazz 180
T-7 Rick Carlisle Indiana Pacers 180
9 Frank Vogel Los Angeles Lakers 177
10 Tom Thibodeau New York Knicks 166
11 Mike Budenholzer Milwaukee Bucks 165
12 Doc Rivers Philadelphia 76ers 161
13 Michael Malone Denver Nuggets 157
14 Nate McMillan Atlanta Hawks 143
15 Taylor Jenkins Memphis Grizzlies 134
16 Steve Nash Brooklyn Nets 127
17 Billy Donovan Chicago Bulls 108
T-18 James Borrego Charlotte Hornets 100
T-18 Dwane Casey Detroit Pistons 100
20 Stephen Silas Houston Rockets 84
21 Chris Finch Minnesota Timberwolves 82
22 Mark Daigneault Oklahoma City Thunder 67
23 J.B. Bickerstaff Cleveland Cavaliers 63
24 Ime Udoka Boston Celtics 54
25 Willie Green New Orleans Pelicans 40
26 Jason Kidd Dallas Mavericks 38
27 Jamahl Mosley Orlando Magic 35
28 Luke Walton Sacramento Kings 27
29 Chauncey Billups Portland Trail Blazers 26
30 Wes Unseld Jr. Washington Wizards 17

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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