The D-League is often the first stop for basketball players in what they hope is a long career. For coaches, however, a head spot in the D-League comes after years of experience putting together practice plans, fine-tuning shooting mechanics, and breaking down film. A coveted spot on an NBA bench is hard to come by for a player, and just as difficult for a coach.
Last season, RidiculousUpside.com examined which D-League coaches who have a chance at making the jump to the NBA, and the same rules apply here. Many D-League staffers have a shot at at the NBA and deserve praise for their work, but these five stood out as especially strong candidates given their current situations and accomplishments.
Scott Morrison, Maine Red Claws
Morrison made our list last year and has only improved his case for an NBA shot with his performance this season. In his first season leading the Maine Red Claws, Morrison engineered a franchise best 35-15 record, going on to win the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award. This season, the Red Claws are leading the Atlantic Division and have proven to be one of the league's best offensive teams. The Celtics organization has shown they value up and coming coaches, and Morrison is no different.
Jordi Fernandez, Canton Charge
Also in his second season leading a D-League team, Fernandez has shown consistency during his time with the Canton Charge. A year ago, the Charge set a franchise best 31 wins, and are on pace to exceed that win total this season. Fernandez knows his fundamentals after spending four seasons as a player development coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he's showing he can coach all phases of the game in Canton.
David Arsenault Jr., Reno Bighorns
Arsenault is an offensive innovator. In nearly two full seasons with the Reno Bighorns, his team has led the league in points, 3-point field goals, and assists. In many of those categories, it's not even close. Arsenault installed a high-tempo offense that led to statistical success last season, but this year it's paying off with wins. Reno currently leads the D-League's Western Conference with a 32-17 record. With the Golden State Warriors' prowess taking the NBA by storm, prepare for Arsenault and his offensive style to get a shot in the NBA soon.
Casey Hill, Santa Cruz Warriors
Casey Hill is another repeat coach on this list. His team, the defending D-League champion Santa Cruz Warriors, is not enjoying the same success it had last year, with a record of just 19-30. However, Hill, and many other D-League coaches shouldn't be evaluated on wins and losses alone, but on how they prepare their players for the next level. Hill may be the best in the business when it comes to that. Golden State has gone all in on their current NBA team, and utilized Santa Cruz heavily to get there. For Hill and his staff, they can only sit back and watch their work pay off for their NBA affiliate. The only reason Hill may not make the NBA jump is because he's so good at his current job developing young players into NBA stars.
Dan Craig, Sioux Falls Skyforce
If Craig continues on his current path, he'll be coaching on an NBA bench in no time. The Sioux Falls Skyforce head coach started as a video intern with the Miami Heat in 2003 and has been on the rise ever since. In his first season leading Sioux Falls, he's helped set the record for most wins in a single D-League season. Given his career path, Craig has the desire to get to the NBA and the coaching talent to make it happen.