Is Wes Unseld Jr. doing a good job as head coach? Troy Haliburton joined Ron and me on the #SoWizards Podcast to dissect this question from a number of directions.
If you’re looking for rah-rah cheerleading, this isn’t the episode for you (it’s not the right podcast for you, to be honest). This is an unflinching analysis of how and why Unseld is falling short, how he compares to his predecessors and competitors, as well as how the Wizards organization is failing him as a rookie head coach. And we get into what he — and the front office — needs to do for him and the team to succeed.
In preparation for the episode, I went through the mental exercise of asking basic question: Comparing Unseld to the other 29 NBA head coaches, who would I pick to run my hypothetical team for the next 3-4 seasons? I’ve done this before with Randy Wittman and Scott Brooks. Here’s the list of current NBA coaches I would not pick ahead of Unseld (not in order of preference):
- James Borrego, Charlotte Hornets
- Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks
- Jamahl Mosley, Orlando Magic
- Stephen Silas, Houston Rockets
- Willie Green, New Orleans Pelicans
- Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers
- Alvin Gentry, Sacramento Kings
That means, I have Unseld ranked no higher than 22nd among current NBA coaches. Note that most of the guys on the list above are fairly new coaches — several are also in their first year. The exceptions: Borrego (4th year in Charlotte; 30 games as interim in Orlando), Thibodeau (10th season as head coach), and Gentry (18th season as head coach, including three stints as interim).
Note: we talked a fair amount about how Unseld is not primarily to blame for the team’s struggles. The Wizards’ basic problem this season is the same as it’s been for years: the players aren’t good enough. That said, Unseld hasn’t been able to correct repeated mistakes, connect the individual goals of players to the greater team context, and to maintain competitive motivation.
Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.