Life is rough for NBA head coaches. Especially if you are former Warrior coach Mark Jackson. He was fired last week after back to back playoff appearances and a 51 win season this year, which was one of the highest in franchise history. So, why was Jackson fired and why was Steve Kerr, another inexperienced coach, hired? That’s what this article will get in to.
When the Golden State Warriors hired Jackson three years ago right from the announcer’s booth, it was seen as an extremely ambitious signing. Through the three years it seemed to work. However, there were obvious issues that the Warriors front office had with Jackson which led to Jackson being fired and being replaced by Kerr.
The first issue, was simply with the offense. Lacob wants the Warriors to be a much more efficient offensive team than they were under Jackson. That sometimes happened under Jackson. Unfortunately for Jackson his offense didn’t flow and produce enough results for him to be kept. It was a heavy isolation offense. It featured star point guard Stephen Curry going one-on-one far too often and trying to post up Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes on smaller guards. That’s a good thought, but that doesn’t include ball movement and neither guy is great in the post.
The second and most obvious issue with Jackson was with his inability to communicate and get along with management at times. He had a me against the world kind of mentality which rubbed off on his players. In addition, he would often times rub Lacob, General Manager Bob Myers and even Jerry West the wrong way. That was the one of the biggest reason why Jackson was let go.
After Jackson was fired, there was one candidate who emerged as the leading man for the job; Steve Kerr. Why Kerr, what has he done to deserve the opportunity to be the head coach? Those were the two most frequently asked questions regarding Kerr.
Kerr provides much of the same things that Jackson had, an inexperienced guy who hasn’t coached before, as well as being a former NBA point guard. However, unlike Jackson, Kerr has five championships and has been coached by two of the greatest coaches of the modern era, the Zen Master and Gregg Popovich. Those things are both positives in Kerr’s favor. He’s a smart, likeable guy and seems to be anti-Jackson regarding likeability and will be much more popular with the Warriors front office than Jackson ever was. That was one of the reasons why the Warriors made the hiring.
Kerr, also has an affinity for Curry, which should help. He tried to trade for Curry on draft day when he was the Suns GM. Kerr obviously knows shooters, being one himself, and will instantly design an offense centered around the shooters that the Warriors have. Kerr is going to bring a much better offensive philosophy with him as opposed to Jackson who was much more defensive-minded. Also, Kerr is more willing than Jackson to bring in experienced assistants that know x’s and o’s.
Probably the biggest challenge that Kerr will face, will be bringing together a locker room that was fully behind Jackson and were all disappointed in him being let go by the Warriors. Kerr has the kind of personality that can do that, but if the Warriors get off to a slow start and struggle to adjust to Kerr’s new philosophies, than it might start to raise questions about him and why management hired him.
Kerr seems like the kind of guy who should be able to have success as a head coach right away, considering the Warriors roster and how much basketball he has been around. Also, if he’s able to develop a bond with Curry similar to the bond that Jackson had with him, it should only help his cause. Kerr will more than likely be given a longer leash than Jackson considering the Warriors gave him a 5 year 25 million dollar contract, as opposed to giving Jackson only four years.
The Warriors hiring Kerr will obviously be seen as a high risk, high reward signing. Whenever a coach wins 51 games and gets a team to the second round of the playoffs once, and almost pulls off the upset against a much better Los Angeles Clippers team, without their best rim protector, it’s impressive. Jackson will be a difficult act to follow for Kerr, but he has the pedigree, the mind, the charm and everything you’d want in a head coach. However, whether or not the results happen remains to be seen.