After the firing of Mark Jackson last week the Golden State Warriors have slowly begun parsing through their list of coaching prospects. There are tons of possible names, but only a couple of front-runners.
One of those options, Steve Kerr, is in a similar position that Jackson was three years ago as a guy who has no experience. To Kerr’s defense, he does have that experience elsewhere — from June 2007 to 2010 — as a general manager of the Phoenix Suns. Whether you believe he was successful there or not is another story, the point is he has experience.
In the NBA Steve Kerr was much more successful, albeit partially because he played on some great teams. He still primarily came off the bench, but winning five NBA championships is no fluke.
Whether or not he fits with the Golden State Warriors is another idea entirely, successful backgrounds aside.
As for his mindset, Kerr is very open about his involvement with basketball analytics and is considered an incredibly bright basketball mind. He’s even been apart of a panel at MIT during a conference for sports analytics which coincidentally also included Stan Van Gundy, one of the other big names for this open position. If you are looking for a chance from Mark Jackson’s “rah-rah” style, look no further. At least in that sense Kerr would be a great fit.
Steve Kerr is also triangle-offense guy, which is one of the reasons Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks are pursuing his so much. Look at it this way, if the “Zen-Master” himself thinks someone is qualified, it’s pretty hard to say otherwise.
Some might say bringing in another coach with zero coaching experience is more of a lateral coaching move, but recently there are examples of inexperienced coaches (Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson) having success.
Even Joe Lacob — when asked in a discussion involving himself, Tim Kawakami, Rusty Simmons, and Montee Poole – had said he and the rest of the front office “would consider it” when asked if they would be reluctant to hire another “guy who has no coaching experience”.
First and foremost, will Kerr’s system be a good fit for the Warriors’ personnel?
You could make a case that the triangle offense could work given that one of the central pieces needed is a big man with great ball movement skills; the Warriors arguably possess one Andrew Bogut. It also requires guys who are good in the corners, and he would have that in Klay Thompson along with Steph Curry.
Also, contrary to popular belief the triangle offense is predicated on being good in transition and getting down the court quickly to catch the defense off-balance, something the Golden State Warriors do very well.
In fact, Curry is a player who could help draw Kerr to the Warriors. While Kerr was with the Phoenix Suns, he was on the verge of landing the negotiating rights to Curry in exchange for Amare Stoudamire. That fell through, however, but Steve Kerr, in an interview with Tim Kawakami, had plenty of good things to say about the Warriors’ all-star.
We loved him. The first time I saw him play live was in Anaheim. He was with Davidson and played UCLA in the Wooden classic and he was magical. He didn’t even shoot that well but just his feel and his passing. I was with a lot of our scouts, Bruce Frazier, we’re watching and we’re like, ‘This is the second coming of Steve Nash. This guy is special.’
Kerr also had this to say regarding his coaching philosophies while talking to Brian Windhorst in March in an interview:
“I don’t believe in four guards and a big. I still believe in playing two bigs, but if you can have the type of versatility where you can accomplish both yea, i think everybody likes to push the ball. But the biggest thing is just the ball movement on offense forcing the defense to react and respond.”
He went on to say that he “hate[s] isolation basketball, and so as a coach I would absolutely demand a lot of ball movement and spacing. It’s why I love watching Dallas play and San Antonio and Portland. Those teams just flow and there’s a beauty to the game and that’s what I would aspire to as a coach.”
The first quote might scare some off considering the Warriors can be effective with a small lineup, but the point here is that he’s all about ball movement. Besides, these Warriors are not really a “small-ball” team anyway; only when forced to in cases like the playoffs and plagued by injuries.
Also, the Warriors finished tied for seventh in assists per game during the regular season at 23.3 per game. And, the fact that he hates isolation basketball should be music to any Warriors’ fans ears. I know I’ve seen enough of it. Imagine how much better their assists per game could be without all the isolation plays.
Kerr also has an existing relationship with owner Joe Lacob and president Rick Welts as well as which dates back to Kerr’s days in Phoenix. That relationship would already be one that’s better than what Mark Jackson had with Oakland’s front office and could help things along.
He would also be inheriting a defense which has been steadily improving over the last couple of seasons under Mark Jackson. Again we go back to the interview with Brian Windhorst where Kerr said the following:
“I love watching the Pacers play, maybe i’m in the minority, but i like size. I like teams that can put two bigs on the floor, defend the paint, and still stretch the floor offensively and put a good attack on that end.”
Last season Golden State was 10th in the league in points allowed in the paint per game at 40.7, a solid ranking. That also led to the third-best team in terms of defensive efficiency — a measure of the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions — behind only Indiana and Chicago. Those were also the only three teams who kept their defensive efficiency under 100.0.
So, for Kerr it would take a team that has the personnel to run the triangle offense, a team that can move the ball around, and a team that can defend the paint.
Two out of three ain’t bad, though we could say 2.5 because the Warriors were not often given the chance to spread the floor. We did see flashes of it though, and what I recall was promising.
Clearly this is a team poised for a better run than this past season, but is Steve Kerr the one to take them to the promised land? Personally, he would be a great option for the Golden State Warriors.
I’m not going to lie, at first I was pretty skeptical that Steve Kerr would be the coach for the Golden State Warriors. However, after going through the information as well as reading and hearing about Steve Kerr’s coaching philosophies, I am convinced. And if your only argument against him is his lack of experience then you are overlooking a plethora of other arguments which make him a great fit.
Yes, there is something to a team’s head coach having “been there, done that”, but in Kerr’s case his basketball intelligence can help him overcome that. Besides, the Golden State Warriors also have Jerry West as a team consultant and can be someone to help ease the transition. Maybe even surround Kerr with some assistants who do have that experience that he can lean on.The point is that his lack of experience can be accounted for by other means, and in doing so they give Steve Kerr the opportunity to succeed. All he needs is the opportunity, and I believe he can do the rest.