Watching former NBA players find success in the league and subsequently flourish as a future head coach without any previous experience on the bench has been an increasingly popular trend in The Association. The likes of Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd both represent solid examples, and new Golden State Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr appears poised to be next.
As former players are granted such opportunities, one has to wonder how far along it will be before head coaches in the D-League are making such giant leaps as well.
Coaching in the D-League seems to have stood tall as an early prerequisite for subsequently emerging as an assistant coach in the NBA. Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors) and Chris Finch (Houston Rockets) are among those, currently employed as NBA assistants, to have previously led their respective minor league squads to championships, and Alex Jensen (Utah Jazz) is a former NBADL Coach of the Year winner.
If coaches like Kidd and Jackson have made such seamless transitions, and subsequently found success based on their previous experience playing on the court, who's to say such D-League head coaches aren't qualified enough to make similar transitions, due to their respective experience instead?
It goes without saying that experience on an NBA bench has seemingly gone out of the window as a necessary prerequisite for becoming a head coach in The Association. Instead, being a popular player, and/or having some evident sort of "swagger", so to speak, helps in this regard instead. Whereas similar names such as Jackson, Kidd, and now Kerr, are favored as the "sexier" hires these days, why not promote success in the D-League in the same respect?
It's been fantastic to watch D-League head coaches earn promotions and make the transition from the man with the plan on a minor league bench, to a solid NBA assistant and/or front office staffer. That said, next up on the docket, however, should be the transition from head coach in the NBADL to the NBA.
As fate would have it, perhaps some of the D-League's coaches are already planning as though such a trend is about to become a popular one.
Earlier this season, Sioux Falls Skyforce head coach Pat Delany joined us at RidiculousUpside.com for one of our more popular podcast episodes. Among other things, Coach Delany discussed his motivations behind stepping in as Skyforce head coach after the Heat emerged as the team's official single NBA affiliate. Having worked in Miami for over a decade (serving in various capacities, including Advanced Scout, Video Coordinator, and Summer League Assistant Coach), Delany asserted that he felt as though coaching was something necessary to have on his resume. The D-League provided him with such an opportunity. Following some success in the minor league, and a familiarity on the NBA level in a number of different roles, shouldn't he emerge as a worthwhile candidate?
In addition, following five seasons as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets, Doug Overton did not join Jason Kidd's staff in Brooklyn last year. Instead, he stepped up as the star of his own staff as the head coach of the affiliated Springfield Armor. During an interview with RidiculousUpside.com earlier this year, the NBA veteran asserted that he, too, was intrigued by the opportunities serving as a head coach in the D-League presented him with. Arguably put on the spot a bit more in this given situation, Coach Overton was able to explore which philosophies worked for him on and off the court, and was forced to prepare himself in different ways for various in-game scenarios.
If NBA organizations consider certain former players qualified enough to step right up as potential head coaches in The Association, aren't D-League coaches already doing what they can to prove their worth in different ways? Perhaps gentlemen like Coach Delany and Coach Overton are poised to start a trend of their own.