Time spent as an NBA head coach can often be fleeting. Expectations are always high and positive results are expected almost immediately. There have been many coaches over the years who have managed to find a little bit of success, only to have that success go unappreciated. In hopes of rectifying that, we’d like to share some of the most forgotten and underrated NBA coaches in recent memory.
The fact that Spoelstra has managed to hang onto his job and continue to win in Miami after LeBron James left town has been impressive. Granted, he’s missed the playoffs a few times, but that was to be expected.
Miami has never fallen that far down the Eastern Conference hierarchy in the post-LeBron era. With Spoelstra getting the Heat back to the NBA Finals in 2020, albeit under unusual circumstances, it’s clear that he deserves to be rated among the league’s best coaches.
Thibodeau taking over the Knicks will be the ultimate challenge for him. But based on his past experiences, he should be up for it. During his time in Chicago, he rarely had Derrick Rose fully healthy and at his best, which is why things fizzled after he got the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011.
It was also a little unfair to fire him in Minnesota. After all, Thibodeau helped the T’Wolves snap a 13-year playoff drought.
Somehow, coaches with Carlisle’s longevity always seem to be a little underrated. He’s been a coach all but one year since 2001 and has kept his job in Dallas since 2008. Keep in mind, he won an NBA championship with the Mavs in 2011.
Also, the fact that he wasn’t deterred during a long rebuilding project and got Dallas back to the playoffs in 2020 should be celebrated a little more.
Things didn’t work out for Clifford in Charlotte, but he’s quietly been able to change the narrative in Orlando. The Magic were an absolute mess before his arrival, winning less than 30 games in five of the previous six seasons.
Not only did he get Orlando back to the playoffs in 2019, but he also led the Magic to a division title. It’s a little unfair that he hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves for leading such an amazing turnaround.
Snyder definitely did things the hard way after his time as a college coach at Missouri. But he’s been outstanding since taking over the Jazz in 2014, even if he hasn’t guided them to the top of the Western Conference hierarchy just yet.
Snyder deserves a lot of credit for the development of a player like Donovan Mitchell, not to mention the fact that Utah was one of the worst teams in the NBA before his arrival.