On Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors completed the greatest regular season in NBA history, finishing with a 73-9 record.
While the team is built with incredible talent, a big part of their ascension was the hiring of Steve Kerr, who transformed the team on offence and defence.
Kerr was a first-time head coach when the Warriors hired him to replace Mark Jackson following a first-round playoff exit in 2014.
While many first-time coaches need time to adapt to the NBA, Kerr came to Golden State prepared. As detailed by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard in 2015, Kerr spent two years preparing for the right moment to take his shot as a head coach.
According to Ballard, while Kerr was still a TV analyst for TNT, he began keeping a Microsoft Word file on his laptop where he compiled notes on plays, philosophies, workouts, and team policies. He then expanded from written notes to full video. From Ballard:
Kerr began collecting plays too, pausing games on the flat-screen at his San Diego home whenever he saw an action he liked — a backdoor lob off an inbounds or a particularly potent flare screen. Then he’d shoot an email to Kelly Peters, a friend and coach at nearby Torrey Pines High (and now a Warriors advance scout). Peters pulled the footage and compiled it using iMovie. Week by week, Kerr’s file — named ATOs, for ‘After Timeouts” — grew.
By the spring of 2014, the video library had swelled to over 50 plays and the Word file had morphed into a detailed Power Point presentation.
Ballard noted that Kerr, who got the advice to create this portfolio from former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, also took note of team philosophies, from practice schedules to travel policies.
Clearly, it’s worked. Kerr enabled the Warriors to play unlike a team that NBA has seen. Stephen Curry is a revolutionary force on offence, Draymond Green went from an unheralded second-round pick to a game-changing, positionless blur, Klay Thompson became one of the best two-way wing players in the NBA. Meanwhile, role players like Andre Iguodala, have bought into Kerr’s system, sacrificing minutes and numbers to help the team achieve greatness. Not every coach is capable of such achievements.
Kerr’s influence on the team’s play and culture is reflected on the court. The team not only plays a high-octane, spread-out offence that baffles opponents, but their selflessness displays a genuine adoration for one another:
The Warriors are heavy title favourites again this season. With Kerr at the helm and an incredible core of players locked in, the Warriors seem poised to become the NBA’s next great dynasty.