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Coaches: Ex-Players VS no NBA playing experience

08 Jun

During research for my post about coaches without no previous coaching experience I’ve stumbled into another IMHO interesting question: how do ex-players who became coaches compare to coaches without playing experience in the NBA?

I don’t think I can answer a question “from which group SHOULD you hire?” – every situation is different because of roster, expectations, previous experience etc but I think it’s worth exploring.

My starting point was again at Basketball-Reference.com where you can find full list of coaches employed by the NBA but this time I’ve used all 294 names [because this project could be automated].

For a change let’s start with a bang and curiosities will follow.

Here’s All-Time Data

Coaches [Totals] Years Games Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Ex-Players 882 61263 31057 30206 0,507 62 38
Didn’t play in NBA 602 40005 19577 20428 0,489 20 26
Coaches [Averages] Years Games Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Ex-Players 5,31 369,05 187,09 181,96 0,507 0,373 0,233
Didn’t play in NBA 4,70 312,54 152,95 159,59 0,489 0,156 0,206


And here’s Data from last 20 Years

Coaches [Totals] Years Games Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Ex-Players 576 41401 21264 20137 0,514 48 23
Didn’t play in NBA 367 25420 12483 12937 0,491 18 9
Coaches [Averages] Years Games Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Ex-Players 6,78 487,07 250,16 236,91 0,514 0,565 0,280
Didn’t play in NBA 5,73 397,19 195,05 202,14 0,491 0,281 0,145

So… are ex-players better coaches or they can start with a better team because of name recognition?
I don’t know but it is possible to verify… you only need Basketball-Reference’s database to do it ;-)

And now just for fun a couple of tables.

Most Games Coached by Ex-Players

Coach From To Yrs Gms Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Lenny Wilkens 1970 2005 32 2487 1332 1155 0,536 2 1
Don Nelson 1977 2010 31 2398 1335 1063 0,557 0 0
Jerry Sloan 1980 2011 26 2024 1221 803 0,603 2 0
Larry Brown 1977 2011 26 2002 1098 904 0,548 3 1
Pat Riley 1982 2008 24 1904 1210 694 0,636 9 5
George Karl 1985 2011 23 1739 1036 703 0,596 1 0
Gene Shue 1967 1989 22 1645 784 861 0,477 2 0
Phil Jackson 1990 2011 20 1640 1155 485 0,704 13 11
Rick Adelman 1989 2011 20 1561 945 616 0,605 2 0
Mike Dunleavy 1991 2010 17 1329 613 716 0,461 1 0

The Best Winning% by Ex-Players [minimum 82 games coached]

Coach From To Yrs Gms Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Phil Jackson 1990 2011 20 1640 1155 485 0,704 13 11
Billy Cunningham 1978 1985 8 650 454 196 0,698 3 1
Larry Bird 1998 2000 3 214 147 67 0,687 1 0
K.C. Jones 1974 1992 10 774 522 252 0,674 5 2
Ed Macauley 1959 1960 2 137 89 48 0,65 0 0
Pat Riley 1982 2008 24 1904 1210 694 0,636 9 5
Avery Johnson 2005 2011 5 346 218 128 0,63 1 0
Tom Heinsohn 1970 1978 9 690 427 263 0,619 2 2
Neil Johnston 1960 1961 2 154 95 59 0,617 0 0
Rick Adelman 1989 2011 20 1561 945 616 0,605 2 0
Jerry Sloan 1980 2011 26 2024 1221 803 0,603 2 0
Danny Ainge 1997 2000 4 226 136 90 0,602 0 0
Rick Carlisle 2002 2011 9 738 443 295 0,6 1 0
George Karl 1985 2011 23 1739 1036 703 0,596 1 0
Larry Costello 1969 1979 10 730 430 300 0,589 2 1

The Worst Winning% by Ex-Players [minimum 82 games coached]

Coach From To Yrs Gms Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Bill Hanzlik 1998 1998 1 82 11 71 0,134 0 0
Quinn Buckner 1994 1994 1 82 13 69 0,159 0 0
Brian Winters 1996 2002 3 184 36 148 0,196 0 0
Garfield Heard 1993 2000 2 97 23 74 0,237 0 0
Sidney Lowe 1993 2003 5 307 79 228 0,257 0 0
Marc Iavaroni 2008 2009 2 123 33 90 0,268 0 0
Jim Pollard 1960 1962 2 119 32 87 0,269 0 0
Tom Marshall 1959 1960 2 129 35 94 0,271 0 0
Kurt Rambis 1999 2011 3 201 56 145 0,279 0 0
Gene Littles 1986 1995 4 155 44 111 0,284 0 0
Jim Cleamons 1997 1998 2 98 28 70 0,286 0 0
Jack McCloskey 1973 1974 2 164 48 116 0,293 0 0
M.L. Carr 1996 1997 2 164 48 116 0,293 0 0
Fred Carter 1993 1994 2 108 32 76 0,296 0 0
Larry Krystkowiak 2007 2008 2 100 31 69 0,31 0 0
Carl Braun 1960 1961 2 127 40 87 0,315 0 0
Al Bianchi 1968 1969 2 164 53 111 0,323 0 0
Randy Wittman 2000 2009 5 307 100 207 0,326 0 0
Johnny Kerr 1967 1970 4 283 93 190 0,329 0 0
Darrell Walker 1997 2000 3 169 56 113 0,331 0 0

Most Games Coached by Coaches without playing experience in the NBA

Coach From To Yrs Gms Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Bill Fitch 1971 1998 25 2050 944 1106 0,46 2 1
Dick Motta 1969 1997 25 1952 935 1017 0,479 2 1
Jack Ramsay 1969 1989 21 1647 864 783 0,525 1 1
Cotton Fitzsimmons 1971 1997 21 1607 832 775 0,518 0 0
Red Auerbach 1947 1966 20 1417 938 479 0,662 0 9
John MacLeod 1974 1991 18 1364 707 657 0,518 1 0
Mike Fratello 1981 2007 17 1215 667 548 0,549 0 0
Gregg Popovich 1997 2011 15 1180 797 383 0,675 4 4
Flip Saunders 1996 2011 15 1147 636 511 0,554 0 0
Chuck Daly 1982 1999 14 1075 638 437 0,593 3 2

The Best Winning% by Coaches without playing experience in the NBA [minimum 82 games coached]

Coach From To Yrs Gms Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Tom Thibodeau 2011 2011 1 82 62 20 0,756 0 0
Gregg Popovich 1997 2011 15 1180 797 383 0,675 4 4
Mike Brown 2006 2010 5 410 272 138 0,663 1 0
Red Auerbach 1947 1966 20 1417 938 479 0,662 0 9
Stan Van Gundy 2004 2011 7 513 334 179 0,651 1 0
Les Harrison 1949 1955 7 476 295 181 0,62 0 1
Erik Spoelstra 2009 2011 3 246 148 98 0,602 1 0
Harold Olsen 1947 1949 3 158 95 63 0,601 0 0
Chuck Daly 1982 1999 14 1075 638 437 0,593 3 2
John Kundla 1949 1959 11 725 423 302 0,583 0 5

The Worst Winning% by Coaches without playing experience in the NBA [minimum 82 games coached]

Coach From To Yrs Gms Wins Losses W-L% Conf Champ
Clair Bee 1953 1954 2 139 32 107 0,23 0 0
Dick Harter 1989 1990 2 122 28 94 0,23 0 0
Leonard Hamilton 2001 2001 1 82 19 63 0,232 0 0
Bill Blair 1983 1996 3 108 29 79 0,269 0 0
Bob MacKinnon 1977 1988 3 93 25 68 0,269 0 0
Tim Floyd 1999 2004 5 321 90 231 0,28 0 0
Brendan Malone 1996 2005 2 100 29 71 0,29 0 0
Ron Rothstein 1989 1993 4 328 97 231 0,296 0 0
Rolland Todd 1971 1972 2 138 41 97 0,297 0 0
Eddie Donovan 1962 1965 4 278 84 194 0,302 0 0
Bill Musselman 1981 1991 4 258 78 180 0,302 0 0
Frank Hamblen 1992 2005 2 104 33 71 0,317 0 0
Jerry Reynolds 1987 1990 4 170 56 114 0,329 0 0
Richie Adubato 1980 1997 6 367 127 240 0,346 0 0
Doxie Moore 1950 1952 2 92 32 60 0,348 0 0
Don Casey 1989 2000 4 238 85 153 0,357 0 0
Lon Kruger 2001 2003 3 191 69 122 0,361 0 0
Dick Vitale 1979 1980 2 94 34 60 0,362 0 0
Alvin Julian 1949 1950 2 128 47 81 0,367 0 0
Scotty Robertson 1975 1983 5 287 109 178 0,38 0 0

Surprisingly ex-players with a Bottom 20 record lasted shorter than Bottom 20 record-wise coaches without playing experience! To be precise 2,6 seasons [158 total games] vs 3,1 [182].

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3 Comments

Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Expanding Horizons

 

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3 responses to “Coaches: Ex-Players VS no NBA playing experience

  1. Imadogg

    June 9, 2011 at 15:17

    Saw the link in your sig on RGM.. I like this blog

     
  2. wiLQ

    June 9, 2011 at 17:02

    Thanks… so I hope I’ll see you here again soon ;-)

     

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