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The top 11 head coaches in the NBA today, ranked

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The top 11 head coaches in the NBA today, ranked
  • We ranked the 11 best coaches in the NBA today.
  • We weighed recent success with longevity, championships, awards, talent, and reputation to come up with our list.
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11. Doc Rivers

11. Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers.Matt Slocum/AP Images

Team: Philadelphia 76ers

Age: 60

Record with current team: 100-54, 3 seasons

Career record: 1,043-735

Coach of the Year awards: 1 (1999-00)

Championships: 1

Where they stand now: Success has followed Rivers nearly everywhere he's been. Of course, that's partially a result of taking jobs with talented teams, but after winning a title with the Celtics in 2008, Rivers has had strong stints with the Clippers and 76ers, elevating both squads. Though critics question his reliance on veterans and a reluctance to adapt in playoff series — his record of blown 3-1 series leads is at least worth mentioning — few coaches are in the playoffs so often, so consistently.

10. Ime Udoka

10. Ime Udoka
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Team: Boston Celtics

Age: 45

Record with current team: 51-31, 1 season

Career record: 51-31

Coach of the Year awards 0

Championships: 0

Where they stand now: Udoka had an impressive first season with the Celtics. He openly questioned his team's toughness as they stumbled out of the gate, but they were the league's best team from February on, going 24-6, with the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense. Udoka famously said the team wasn't running from anyone in the playoffs, and they went through the gauntlet, beating the Nets, Bucks, and Heat, before falling to the Warriors in six games in the Finals. Sure, Udoka took over a talented squad, but something clicked mid-year and Boston went to a new level.

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9. Michael Malone

9. Michael Malone
Michael Malone.Jeff Chiu/AP Images

Team: Denver Nuggets

Age: 51

Record with current team: 314-241, 7 seasons

Career record: 353-308

Coach of the Year awards: 0

Championships: 0

Where they stand now: Malone is entering his eighth season with the Nuggets. During his tenure, Denver ranks eighth in regular season wins and has four playoff appearances, making it to the second round twice and conference finals once. Malone isn't always regarded as a tactical genius like some other coaches, but Nikola Jokic has blossomed into a two-time MVP under his watch, and his teams have frequently ranked in the top six in offensive rating.

8. Taylor Jenkins

8. Taylor Jenkins
Taylor Jenkins.Brandon Dill/AP Images

Team: Memphis Grizzlies

Age: 38

Record with current team: 128-99, 3 seasons

Career record: 128-99

Coach of the Year awards: 0

Championships: 0

Where they stand now: Jenkins has consistently gotten more out of the Grizzlies than expected. He took over a young team in 2019 in the midst of a rebuild and in one season turned them into Western Conference contenders again. The Grizzlies have high-end talent in Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., but they have also turned late draft picks, like Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane, into valuable contributors.

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7. Monty Williams

7. Monty Williams
Monty Williams.Matt York/AP Images

Team: Phoenix Suns

Age: 50

Record with current team: 149-78, 3 seasons

Career record: 322-299

Coach of the Year awards: 1 (2021-22)

Championships: 0

Where they stand now: Williams has helped to quickly elevate the Suns from basement-dweller to contender. Not only has Williams proven adept as an emotional leader, his Suns have been one of the best defensive teams, while running a complex, varied offensive system. Phoenix crashed out of the playoffs spectacularly last season, but with Williams at the helm, they're likely to bounce back.

6. Nick Nurse

6. Nick Nurse
Nick Nurse.Matt Slocum/AP Images

Team: Toronto Raptors

Age: 55

Record with current team: 186-122, 4 seasons

Career record: 186-122

Coach of the Year awards: 1

Championships: 1

Where they stand now: Described as a madman by teammates and opponents alike, Nurse has shown a willingness to experiment. He famously busted out an old-school, box-and-1 defense on Stephen Curry in the Finals (Curry called it "janky"). Bradley Beal said Nurse builds "junkyard" defenses to slow him down. The Raptors improved by 21 wins last year despite playing unorthodox lineups that almost never featured someone taller than 6-foot-9. Give Nurse seemingly any combination of players, and he'll make it work.

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5. Tyronn Lue

5. Tyronn Lue
Tyronn Lue.Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Images

Team: LA Clippers

Age: 45

Record with current team: 89-65, 2 seasons

Career record: 217-148

Coach of the Year awards: 0

Championships: 1

Where they stand now: Lue showed his coaching mettle by helping the Cavs overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the 2016 Finals to win one of the most meaningful championships in recent years. Since, Lue has only bolstered his reputation as one of the best tacticians. Analysts rave about his teams' after-timeout and late-game execution. He famously went super-small in the 2021 postseason to play Rudy Gobert off the court. With the Clippers looking like championship contenders this year, Lue will have an opportunity once again to show he's one of the smartest coaches in the league.

4. Mike Budenholzer

4. Mike Budenholzer
Mike Budenholzer.Steven Senne/AP Images

Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Age: 53

Record with current team: 213-96, 4 seasons

Career record: 426-293

Coach of the Year awards: 2 (2014-15, 2018-19)

Championships: 1

Where they stand now: Budenholzer has his share of critics because of a reluctance to adjust in the playoffs or play his stars massive minutes (though he changed a bit on the latter last year). But it's hard to ignore the success that has followed him. In nine seasons as a head coach, he's topped 50 wins four different times. The Bucks became a juggernaut when he came to Milwaukee, winning more games than any other team over the last four years. The Bucks' 2021 championship may have saved his job. He looks set to preside over a contender for many more years.

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3. Erik Spoelstra

3. Erik Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra.Wilfredo Lee/AP Images

Team: Miami Heat

Age: 51

Record with current team: 660-453, 14 seasons

Career record: 660-453

Coach of the Year awards: 0

Championships: 2

Where they stand now: Spoelstra famously worked his way up from the video room to the lead chair and hasn't looked back. The Heat have made the playoffs in 11 of Spoelstra's 14 seasons and played in the Finals in five of them. Through great roster turnover — pre-Big 3, the Big 3, post-Big 3, the Jimmy Butler era, etc.— his Miami teams have maintained a constant theme: play hard and disciplined. Some regard Spoelstra as the best coach in the NBA — he only falls third for us because of the magnitude of accomplishments for coaches No. 1 and 2 on our list.

2. Gregg Popovich

2. Gregg Popovich
Gregg Popovich.Darren Abate/AP Images

Team: San Antonio Spurs

Age: 73

Record with current team: 1,344-701, 26 seasons

Career record: 1,344-701

Coach of the Year awards: 3 (2002-03, 2011-12, 2013-14)

Championships: 5

Where they stand now: Considered one of the greatest coaches in American sports history, Popovich's résumé speaks for itself. His job was in danger at one point early on, but there's been no looking back since. Popovich has proven adaptable: His early Spurs teams were defensive-minded, low-post brutes before evolving into drive-and-kick, spread offense dynamos. Along the way, he's preached culture and worldliness in a way rarely seen in sports. The only knock on Popovich is something he himself has always said: Coaches are only as good as their players. The Spurs have finished below-.500 the last three seasons as they enter a long rebuild.

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1. Steve Kerr

1. Steve Kerr
Steve Kerr.Jed Jacobsohn/AP Images

Team: Golden State Warriors

Age: 56

Record with current team: 429-200, 8 seasons

Career record: 429-200

Coach of the Year awards: 1 (2015-16)

Championships: 4

Where they stand now: It can be hard to separate the individuals from the Warriors' success — would Steve Kerr be so accomplished without a selfless superstar like Stephen Curry? Would Curry have become the star he is without Kerr's coaching? Either way, people around the NBA marvel at the way Kerr leads and gets buy-in from his players. He has not only installed a complex read-and-react, motion offense, but the Warriors have consistently been among the NBA's best defensive teams under his watch. He empowers his players like few others while also striking the right tone emotionally. His coaching has undoubtedly elevated talented rosters that have played in the Finals in six of his eight years in charge.