The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves at a critical juncture in their pursuit of championship contention. While boasting the exceptional talents of superstar Damian Lillard, the team has struggled to achieve consistent success under the current head coach, Chauncey Billups.
With an underwhelming 62-104 head coaching record, it has become evident that a change is necessary. Fortunately, a unique opportunity presents itself, as a staggering amount of highly accomplished head coaches have recently become available.
I won’t pretend to know which head coach is ultimately the best fit for the Blazers, as the decision comes down to more than just their track record. Any potential Blazers head coach needs to be a good fit for the roster general manager Joe Cronin builds this offseason and needs to jive well with Lillard.
But, as we’ve seen with Billups, jiving with Lillard is not enough on its own.
The Trail Blazers should seize this opportunity by courting an established NBA coach to propel their team toward contention. There are seven former head coaches available Cronin may decide to choose from; here’s what each could bring to Portland.
The importance of experienced leadership for the Blazers
Successful NBA teams thrive under the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced coaches who possess a proven track record of achieving results. The newly available pool of coaches includes a remarkable assembly of championship winners and decorated mentors who have achieved considerable success throughout their careers.
A 2019 NBA Champion, Nurse demonstrated exceptional coaching acumen by leading the small-market Toronto Raptors to their first championship. His ability to adapt and strategize under pressure would bring invaluable expertise to the Trail Blazers.
As the head coach of the small-market Milwaukee Bucks, Budenholzer orchestrated the team’s remarkable run to the 2021 NBA Championship. His emphasis on disciplined team play and offensive efficiency could significantly benefit the Blazers’ roster.
Note: Both Nurse and Budenholzer were able to leverage an elite superstar talent alongside a talented supporting cast to bring a championship to a small-market franchise. That is exactly what Portland is trying to do.
Named the 2022 NBA Coach of the Year, Williams led the Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference Championship in 2021. He has established himself as a respected and admired leader. His proven ability to develop young talent and foster a winning culture would be invaluable to the Trail Blazers.
With an illustrious career that includes an NBA Championship in 2008, Rivers was recognized as one of the top 15 coaches of all time by NBA 75. His wealth of experience and exceptional leadership qualities make him an attractive candidate to guide the Blazers to success.
Other available coaching options and their strengths
In addition to those four, several other notable figures within the NBA coaching landscape are still available, presenting Portland with even more options to choose from.
A renowned offensive mind, D’Antoni has consistently emphasized an up-tempo style of play that maximizes scoring potential. His innovative approach could transform the Blazers’ offense and create a dynamic, high-scoring team.
A former NBA player and successful head coach, Jackson possesses strong leadership skills and a keen basketball IQ. His ability to connect with players and instill a winning mentality could be instrumental in elevating the Trail Blazers to the next level.
Jeff Van Gundy
Known for his defensive expertise and attention to detail, Van Gundy’s coaching philosophy emphasizes discipline and tenacity. His meticulous approach to the game could help the Blazers tighten up defensively and compete at a higher level.
The importance of seizing this opportunity
The clock is ticking for Portland to capitalize on the wealth of talented head coaches now available. With an urgency to build a contending team around Lillard, a coaching change is essential to maximize the chances of success.
By pursuing an established NBA coach with a proven track record, the Trail Blazers can infuse their roster with a winning culture, unlock untapped potential, and navigate the competitive landscape of the NBA.
The time to act is now, and by seizing this opportunity, the Blazers can chart a path toward long-term success with their superstar at the helm.