Over the years in the NBA, there have been dozens of incredible coaches that have either transformed a franchise or transformed the league as a whole. They were trailblazers, game changers, and most importantly, some of the best man-managers around.
Over the past decade, we have seen some of the best of what NBA coaching offers. Being a hot seat replacement can be a career-ender for some, but these coaches have stood out from the rest.
Erik Spoelstra has been in the coaching game since 1993 but began to make his mark in 1997 when he became an assistant coach at the Miami Heat. He took on the head coach role in 2008; the rest is history.
Being the hot seat at a team like the Heat can be a daunting task for most, but there is a reason Spoelstra has been in the job for 14 seasons. He is a two-time NBA champion, going back-to-back in 2012 and 2013, and in 2021, he became only the sixth coach to win 600 games with one team.
Scott Brooks was the long-time Thunder coach between 2008 and 2015 and has since taken his magic to the Wizards and now the Trail Blazers. While he doesn’t have the same accolades as others on this list, he is responsible for bringing up some of the biggest players in the game.
At OKC, he showed us what the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and a young Serge Ibaka were capable of. Nowadays, while he may be the assistant to Chauncey Billups in Portland, his skill and talent in getting the best out of players haven’t run dry yet.
Nick Nurse has been a one-team man since he started coaching in the NBA. He was an assistant at the Raptors between 2013 and 2018 before becoming head coach. Nurse led the Raptors to a championship in 2019 and was named Coach of the Year in 2020.
Nurse has been praised for his creativity and adaptability, especially after the Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard in 2019. He took the Raptors to 53-19 that season and cemented himself as one of the best and most versatile coaches in franchise history.
You can’t talk about stand-out coaches of the past decade without mentioning Brad Stevens.
The former head honcho at the Celtics now serves as their president of basketball operations but was once one of their most celebrated coaches.
Once again, Stevens is another coach that doesn’t have the accolades to reflect his skill, but it isn’t from a lack of trying. He led the Celtics to three Conference Finals and one Semifinal, and while they didn’t win them, he proved that the Celtics were a team not to be underestimated.
No list of incredible modern-day coaches would be complete without Doc Rivers. He has coached the Magic, Celtics, Clippers, and 76ers and led them to their last Championship win back in 2008.
Not only is he widely recognized by players and other coaches as one of the best of all time, but the NBA has also named him in the top 15 best coaches of all time, a testament to his unquestionable talent and skill as a head coach.
Rick Carlisle has been coaching in the NBA since 1989. First as an assistant, then as head coach for the Pistons, the Mavericks, and twice for the Pacers. His time at the Mavericks is widely regarded as one of the best coaching stints in the modern game.
In 2015, he took the title of the coach with the most wins in Mavericks history after leading them to an NBA Championship in 2011.