Remember before the season started how most basketball pundits thought Phil Jackson would be able to talk Steve Kerr into coaching the New York Knicks? Remember how it would be the start to some tremendous rebuild in Madison Square Garden? Of course you do, we all do. We all remember those assumptions because it was nothing short of hilarious when the often pompous, Phil Jackson, did not get his way. Steve Kerr realized his opportunities, weighed his options and apparently has made the right choice. Instead of inheriting a headache in New York, he inherited a basketball team in Golden State.
The Golden State Warriors were already a playoff team when Kerr took the job, but nobody expected Kerr to lead them to what is now the NBA’s best record. Last year, while coached by Mark Jackson, the Warriors were sixth in the Western Conference with a 51-31 record; Kerr has the team positioned to finish first and with well over 60 wins.
In December when asked about his coaching style, Kerr said :” I like humor, I like to keep things loose. . .the way I’m coaching is the totality of my experience under a lot of different people; you sort of take a little from each person. But what they told me is that you have to be yourself.”
It seems that Kerr has also let the excitable youth on his team be themselves as well. The Warriors roster is led by the “Splash Brothers” – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Thompson is averaging 21.7 points per game while Stephen Curry is an MVP candidate this year averaging 23.7 points and 7.9 assists a game. This talented back court, which knocks down the three-point shot at a 43% rate is the back bone of a squad primed for a deep playoff run. The health of center Andrew Bogut is always a cause for concern with the Warriors, but their front court is formidable with Harrison Barnes and the emerging play of Draymond Green. Because of the team’s lead in the West, Kerr has been able to bench some of his starters for games and let his back ups earn some starts (very Popovichian of him). Even then, when you bench guys to start ones named David Lee and Andre Iguodala – how far can the drop-off really be?
Back to Kerr though.
Keep in mind that Kerr is looking and doing great there in Golden State but how good would he have looked if he took the job in New York? The truth is, Kerr inherited a squad most first year coaches don’t get the opportunity to coach. Whatever Mark Jackson was doing there previously needed to be adjusted and Kerr did just that. Another truth is, not just anybody can do the job that Kerr has done. It takes a lot to coach a team up to the next level, especially if there wasn’t any previous ground work put in by the head coach. Kerr made all the adjustments to help get this team to reach their potential. Once again though – this roster is loaded.
Would we be singing the praises to Kerr if he was in New York? Probably not. Most likely not. Definitely wouldn’t have. The reason being – New York just isn’t that good. Kerr would’ve been given the “he’s a first year coach” or “he’s awful” treatment that poor Derrick Fisher is getting in the Big Apple.
Before people start crowning Kerr as the “next great coach” in the NBA – let’s just call it what it is: A smart basketball mind who found a perfect fit.