The Golden State Warriors fired head coach Mark Jackson after finishing 51-31 and losing in the first round of the playoffs last year.
They hired first-time head coach Steve Kerr, and have since become the best team in the league.
At 44-10, the Warriors rank first in defensive rating, second in offensive rating, and have the best point differential in the NBA.
Kerr likes to deflect the attention and credit by saying he simply inherited a good team, but according to SI’s Chris Ballard, Kerr’s coaching philosophies have been two years in the making.
According to Ballard, while Kerr was still a TV analyst for TNT, he began keeping a 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.
Kerr has been brilliant from top to bottom in his first year as coach.
At the start of the season, he decided to place 11-year veteran Andre Iguodala on the bench while starting third-year forward Harrison Barnes (wh0 had struggled under Jackson). He also replaced power forward David Lee with third-year forward Draymond Green in the starting lineup.
Both players have excelled as starters, putting up career years, and the Warriors’ starting five has been the best five-man unit in the league based on net rating.
As an in-game strategist, Kerr has been great.
The Warriors mastered a “weave” play that throws off defenses and gets a wide variety of looks, like an open three-pointer:
Or an open dunk:
One of Kerr’s inbounds plays is a trick that fools defenses into thinking it’s a complicated play, only to be a simple pass to the corner for an open three-pointer:
The Warriors are currently the favourite to win the NBA title, and given their youth — from the players to Kerr as a rookie head coach — they could conceivably get better in the coming years.
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