Both players had long, but different NBA careers — Billups as an All-Star, and Lue as a consistent backup, including a few seasons with the Washington Wizards.
On paper, the Clippers’ coaching staff is stacked, mostly with former NBA players turned coaches. It’s become a sort of trend in the NBA to hire former players shortly after their playing days are over.
So... that got me thinking.
Which Wizards player would make the best head coach?
This is an obvious pick. Wall hasn’t played in roughly two years, but he hasn’t been entirely absent during that period.
Wall served as an unofficial assistant coach on the bench, mentoring the likes of Rui Hachimura and Isaac Bonga, who Wall hasn’t had the chance to play with yet. “It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back,” he said in an interview with NBC Sports.
Prior to his injury, Wall was considered one of the best playmakers in the league — a point guard who could read a play before it develops, and pick apart defenses with his court vision. Those skills lend themselves to coaching, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Wall transition into that role (perhaps with the Wizards) once he hangs up his sneakers.
Troy Brown Jr.
In a pre-draft interview with the Wizards, TBJ was asked to draw up a play. He drew several, wowing the team’s coaching staff. “He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel,” Brooks said at the time.
TBJ is still at the beginning of his career, but his basketball IQ is apparent — and it’s what separates him from other young players around the league. His lack of experience never really hindered him as the game seemed to slow down for TBJ instantly. It’s the other things — like finding a consistent jump shot — that will lead to a breakout season.
If you’re thinking “players’ coach,” Ish is your guy. In a losing season, a locker room can quickly become a pit of misery. Rebuilding teams have to employ players that will lead when things get difficult — when the losses start to pile up and the games seem over before they’re even played. Ish did that for the Wizards this season, and it’s easy to see why they locked him up on a multi-year deal last summer.
The star players will always get the love, but players like Ish are glue that hold the team together. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him on a coaching staff after his career is over, but he’s got plenty of game left in the tank.
Has there ever been a more obvious choice?
Professor Dre was always a head coach on the floor. As one of the least athletic players in the NBA, he balled into his late 30s, and still got buckets on guys a decade younger than him. He moved in slow motion — a rec-league type of style — but his opponents couldn’t keep up.
His full-court passes were a thing of beauty, and he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion, even if it rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way. He’s got all the tools to thrive as a head coach, although I suspect he doesn’t have interest in being a coach, otherwise he might have already received offers.
Dre turned out to be the greatest gift Jan Vesely gave D.C. — and for that, we thank AirWolf.
When you ask Bradley Beal or Wall who their favorite teammate was, they’ll almost immediately say G-Temp.
He arrived to D.C. in 2012 after paying his dues in the G-League and has been a consistent presence in the league ever since. One could argue that one of the biggest mistakes Washington made was letting him walk in free agency because things haven’t been the same since he left.
Similar to Ish, Temple was universally adored, and the coaching staff leaned on him for locker room stability. Things could get heated — but Temple was always there to make sure cooler heads prevailed.
He’ll be a key part of the Brooklyn Nets’ locker room (and we know how much they’ll need his leadership), but expect Temple to get a coaching gig soon after, if he wants one.
This was kind of a wildcard choice, but the AARP Unit deserves another shout out. Uncle Al’s voice was heard inside the Wizards’ locker room and he helped mold Wall into the leader he’s become.
Al knew how to keep a locker room light, but he could also flip a switch when necessary — and the players respected him for it. There was no mincing words with Al, and Randy Wittman appreciated that.
Ah, the good ol’ days of Al, Dre, and Drew Gooden...
Did I miss anyone? Share your thoughts in the comments!