For the second season in a row, the NBA will have eight new head coaches. A few first-time head coaches are expected to try and build something long-term and develop the young players to stars, other situations have championship asperations with the amount of talent on the roster. I have ranked all the new situations and what the organizations have to bring and where they currently stand.
8. Magic (Jamahl Mosley)
The Orlando Magic have been one of the worst teams in the NBA since 2013, since moving on from Dwight Howard. Posting a 253-466 record, a 35% winning clip. They hit a complete reset on their core players, trading Nikola Vucevic (Chicago Bulls), Evan Fournier (Boston Celtics), and Aaron Gordon (Denver Nuggets). They got back younger players like Gary Harris, Wendell Carter Jr, and future draft picks as well. They also have a both Jonathan Issac and Markelle Fultz coming off torn ACLs, 2020 first-round pick Cole Anthony, and currently sitting at the 5th overall pick in the upcoming draft to build around.
They are in a very small market, with no real direction moving forward. They have a lot of young players and have yet to draft that stud player to build around and become a consistent playoff team, despite making the playoffs in 2019 and 2020.
7. Wizards (TBD)
The only reason I have the Wizards in a better situation than the Orlando Magic is simply that they have two All-NBA players on their roster in Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. They have some sort of foundation to help jumpstart this franchise back into playoff relevancy, and they need a coach who will get them to that point.
Deni Adjiva and Rui Hachimura are two guys that will be a big factor in the new head coach’s success with the Wizards. The last young player that the Wizards were able to turn into homegrown all-stars were John Wall and Bradley Beal. Since then, they’ve drafted guys like Otto Porter Jr, Kelly Oubre, and Jan Vesley, who have been decent players at best. But with a fresh voice in the locker room and third-year GM Tommy Shepard, the Wizards have a chance to become a good team in the Eastern Conference.
6. Pelicans (TBD)
Stan Van Gundy was fired after one season, and young star Zion Williamson will be on his third head coach in as many years. They have a lot of young talent, like Lonzo Ball, who is a restricted free agent, Brandon Ingram, and Jaxson Hayes, but have yet to make it to the playoffs in the last three seasons.
They have the talent to build a young contending team, but poor coaching has held them back, and they need to thoroughly pick a coach that will get them to that next level (I.e. Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr).
5. Trail Blazers (Chauncey Billups)
After 9 years under Terry Stotts, Portland went and hired former NBA Champion Chauncey Billups to be their next head coach. He was the obvious choice for this job, even after Damian Lillard personally endorsed now Mavericks head coach, Jason Kidd. After making the Western Conference Finals in 2019, the Blazers have yet to get out of the first round in the last two seasons, and the future in the Pacific Northwest is looking bleak.
They do not have the star power to compete with teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Suns, but also do not have the booming market to compete with Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Francisco. They have never signed a top free agent, and I don’t expect that to continue in the future. Damian Lillard has been linked to some trade rumors but has since come out and debunked the rumors. It may have been all smoke but a wise man once told me that when there is smoke, there is a fire somewhere. How much longer will he be willing to test his loyalty if the Blazers do not get on a championship track?
4. Pacers (Rick Carlisle)
The Pacers have a good roster, but not a great roster. Damontas Sabonis is one of the best young centers in basketball, averaging almost 20-12-7, showing he can potentially compete to be one of the best players in the game. Malcolm Brogdon is another good piece, but injuries have ended his season, and they could potentially move off from him.
Where do the Pacers go from here? They have a roster full of reliable non-star players, but they all struggle with injuries. Potentially moving off Myles Turner to not only free up more cash for other players but get new reliable players for the future by acquiring draft picks is an option.
3. Hawks (Nate McMillan)
When Lloyd Pierce was fired on March 1st, Atlanta sat 11th in the Eastern Conference, with no sense of direction. After naming Nate McMillan interim head coach, they won the next eight games, and went 27-11 under McMillan, finishing 41-31. They ended up losing in 6 games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, and management decided to name McMillan the permanent head coach.
Was this a Cinderella run for Atlanta? Potentially, but they have a good mix of hungry young guys and veterans who can show them the ropes. With guys like Tony Snell and Lou Williams contracts coming off the books, the Hawks have a chance to make their team better and make another run at the conference title next season. Trae Young at the helm found a late-season resurgence alongside other core guys like Kevin Huerter, Clint Capela, and John Collins, so adding more pieces is needdd to help round out the roster and compete.
2. Celtics (Ime Udoka)
The Celtics are the biggest mystery of the bunch. Danny Ainge “retired” from his role as president of basketball operations, and promoted coach Brad Stevens to be his successor. They traded Kemba Walker and could move on from Marcus Smart and make this team younger and cheaper. They have two all-stars to build around in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, a good market, and a solid overall roster to compete.
They need to get another point guard since trading away Kemba Walker, and with Brad Stevens now in the front office, not many people truly understand what this current group of players are capable of, like him So expect major changes to the roster.
1. Mavericks (Jason Kidd)
This is Jason Kidd’s third head coaching gig since retiring in 2013, and this may be his best chance to make something out of his coaching career. Replacing the guy that brought the organization its one and only NBA title is a hard task to accomplish, but having a young MVP candidate player like Luka Doncic makes that way easier.
His recent riff with the organization has been noted, and the proper changes have been made by firing long-time GM Donnie Nelson. The Dallas Mavericks are one of the best young teams in the NBA, but majorly lack that second all-star caliber player to pair with Luka Doncic. They have Kristaps Porzingis, but he is rumored to be unhappy with his role and Dallas, and rightfully so. With a new voice in Dallas for the first time since 2007, maybe they can run more of a two-man offensive system, or at least get KP back to all-star form like he was in New York before tearing his ACL and missing the next 20 months before being traded.