No. 3: Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors
In Mark Jackson’s sophomore campaign with the Golden State Warriors, he led a young team the Western Conference Semifinals. The Warriors were ultimately defeated by the better team in the San Antonio Spurs. However, it is not too much of a stretch to say that the Warriors were coached well enough to possibly upset the superior Spurs.
Jackson thoroughly out coached coach Geroge Karl during the first round of the playoffs.
Despite losing All-Star forward David Lee, Jackson used a rotation which included three rookies, a superstar point guard with ankles held together by tape and a seven-foot center that had trouble simply running down the court. The Warriors often exploited mismatches and forced opponents to play “Warrior ball.”
Jackson admittedly has weaknesses as a coach that needs to be addressed. The Warriors’ inability to inbound cost them precious possessions against the Spurs. And though it may not necessarily be a weakness, Jackson’s tendency to hyperbolize every statement he makes grows old.
In the end, Jackson coached a fantastic season. He purposefully created an environment that nurtures young players, which allowed for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli all to have impactful seasons. The Warriors never gave the impression they overachieved. Jackson’s coaching helped each player understand their role in a system that emphasized defense and rebounding to fuel their offense.