Steve Kerr has had two incredible seasons as the head coach of the Warriors. He probably won’t win Coach of the Year, but he’s one of the best.
At his time two seasons ago, Steve Kerr was color commentating playoff games for TNT. Now, he’s the head coach of arguably the greatest basketball team of all time. When Kerr was hired, he wasn’t taking over a rebuilding team. He was replacing a coach who had led the Warriors to back to back playoff appearances, winning 47 and 51 games respectively.
Anybody who says they weren’t furious at the Warriors for hiring a rookie coach in place of a coach who helped turn the culture of the team around is lying. The Warriors were back on the map, a handful of years after the “We Believe” era, in part because of Jackson’s work but the organization decided to move in a different direction. The stars of the team and the fans had Jackson’s back, but the team decided to go in a different direction.
Turns out everything would be just fine.
It’s important to remember that Steve Kerr almost became the head coach of the New York Knicks. Talk about dodging a bullet! In all honesty, it makes perfect sense as to why the Knicks wanted Kerr. He had a relationship with Knicks president Phil Jackson and he knows the triangle offense well, having played under Jackson as a Chicago Bull from 1993-1998. Kerr’s background in the triangle shines bright in his current motion offense. Cutting, spacing, and reading a defense are keys to the Warriors’ offense. Bigs like Andrew Bogut, and in the past, Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol, have to make smart passes out of the post, as ball movement is key component when the offense is running like a well oiled machine.
Kerr flipped a team that was calling iso plays for Jordan Crawford and post ups for a washed up Jermaine O’Neal to an unselfish team that prides themselves on setting up baskets for the next man. Kerr perked up the offense to emphasis transition threes and an extremely up tempo style. In the two regular seasons with Kerr as coach, Golden State has finished first and second respectively in pace, per Basketball Reference.
Kerr’s immediate success in the NBA has indirectly put the heat on new coaches to perform right from the jump. In two regular seasons, Kerr has accumulated a 140-24 record, an .854 win percentage
Kerr’s free-flowing, fast paced system can be traced back to his GM days with the “7 Seconds or Less” Suns from 2007-2010. One of the most polarizing teams in NBA history, the Suns put on a show night in and night out while consistently being at the top of the Western Conference year after year. Despite never winning an NBA title, Kerr has taken many of the Suns old philosophies and implemented them in Golden State.
The Suns were one of the OGs of small ball, the current style of play Golden State utilizes to perfection. Although the Heat also used small ball during the “Big 3” era, the Warriors are the team that injected “small ball” mania into the league. It makes sense to say the Warriors success with their style has strayed certain teams, like the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls for example, into faster, more up-tempo styles.
What teams are starting to figure out is that the Warriors have one of the most unique rosters in the league, stashed with shooters and versatility that make the way they play easier, much like the 7SOL Suns. Draymond Green is Shawn Marion, the “undersized” do-it-all power forward that can handle the rock and play and guard every position. Klay Thompson, like Raja Bell, is the off guard tasked with the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player on most nights, while being expected to contribute on the offensive side of the ball as well. And Steph Curry aka “Black Nash” is the superstar point guard, the conductor of the offense that gets teammates involved while shooting the lights out of any arena they play in.
Kerr’s immediate success in the NBA has indirectly put the heat on new coaches to perform right from the jump. In two regular seasons, Kerr has accumulated a 140-24 record, an .854 win percentage. Coaches like Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan were brought in with sky high expectations, and both coaches have been torched from media and fans because they haven’t met expectations that Kerr has set. Think about it, the Cavaliers fired David Blatt one year after being two wins away from being NBA champions. His team was 30-11 before LeB — the Cavs, let him go. Tyronn Lue has to be feeling the pressure – he was promoted to push his team over the top, the way Kerr did after Jackson was fired.
Steve Kerr won’t win the Coach of the Year award this season. Luke Walton coached the team to a 39-4 record while he was out, and there’s a plethora of coaches that have a case for the award. However in just his second year, Kerr has cemented himself as one of the 3-5 best coaches in the Association. Kerr has been in the presence of legends throughout his NBA life.
From getting punched in the face by Michael Jordan to hitting clutch shots in deep playoff runs for Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr is on his way as cementing himself as one of the greats.