Who Are the League's Best Offensive and Defensive Coaches?

Los Angeles Lakers

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Basketball super blog Basketball-Reference.com has posted a study of the best offensive and defensive NBA coaches since 1951. BBR took the coaches lifetime offensive and defensive ratings above and below the league average in determining their ratings.

More after the jump

In looking at offensive coaches, it is not much of a surprise to see current New York Knicks and former Phoenix Suns coach Mike D’Antoni listed as the top offensive coach. His famous ” even seconds or less” offense pretty much gave every team in the league a jump start and was the blueprint that showed that running teams could still be successful in the NBA.

Some other notables in the top 10 are Larry Bird coming in at #3. Bird’s Pacers teams were highly efficient and his overall record of 147-67 suggests that he might have been a better head coach than a GM. Still I love Larry Bird and would love to see him back on the sidelines coaching. One of the true success stories of an ex superstar player making the transition to the sidelines successfully.

Another surprise for me was Avery Johnson being ranked #4. I guess that my thoughts were of him being a strict disciplinarian coach that always thought defense first. Despite running a lot of iso sets, Johnson’s Mavericks teams were more than adept at scoring and were one of the best shooting teams around. Ever steady Phil Jackson checks in at #6 with his 1996 Chicago Bulls team being the best offensive team he coached. More on Jackson a little later.

Current Celtics GM Danny Ainge rounds out the top 10 just a notch higher than #11 George Karl. Other notables in the top 50 are Stan Van Gundy at #14, Rick Adelman at #17, Don Nelson at #20, Alvin Gentry at 22, and Jerry Sloan at #23.

Like the offensive rankings, it should come as no surprise that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich comes in ranked as the #1 Defensive coach. Jeff Van Gundy is second followed by former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown and Celtics legend Red Auerbach.

Scott Skiles is sixth in the rankings, Stan Van Gundy is seventh, and Phil Jackson comes in at the number eight position with the 2000 Lakers being his best defensive club.

So what conclusions can we draw from these rankings. If I were running a franchise I would want a coach that ranked as high as possible in both categories. In that case, Phil Jackson is the only coach to appear in the top 10 in both categories and the case could well be made that he is the most successful coach in the game today.

Interestingly Stan Van Gundy measures up well at No. 14 offensively and No. 7 on defense.

The entire list can be viewed at Basketball Reference including a breakdown of just how dominant the Bill Russell era Celtics were on defense

Tags: Defense NBA Offense Phil Jackson Stan Van Gundy