The 'nique Coach's Challenge vol.2
For everyone who asked, “Where’s Pop?” the first time we did this, there were always plans for a sequel. Former Coach of the Year, George Karl put together a top five of the best players he managed over his 27-year coaching career, which inspired us to do something similar.
This isn’t a ranking of the best coaches, it’s a look at some elite NBA coaches and a top five of their best players in peak form during their tenure. Now, you get to determine which squad would come out on top.
NBA Coach: 1974-1979, 1981-1983, 1988-2010
2004 NBA Champion, 2001 COTY, Naismith Hall of Fame
Allen Iverson 2000-2001: The Answer was in peak form, voted MVP, and led the league in scoring and steals, (31.1 ppg and 2.5 spg, respectively). Named to the All-NBA First Team, he led the Sixers to the Finals and infamously stepped over Tyronn Lue.
Chauncey Billups 2003-2004: Mr. Big Shot led his team to an NBA title, and earned Finals MVP. His numbers didn’t scream All-Star; 16.9 ppg, 5.7 apg, .388% 3-PT FG, but he was the leader of a balanced Pistons squad.
Reggie Miller 1994-1995: The player you love to hate, was All-NBA Third Team, averaging 19.6 ppg, shooting .415% from deep, while scoring 8 points in 9 seconds in the Playoffs.
Dikembe Mutumbo 2001-2002: Still wagging his finger to the tune of All-Defensive Second Team and All-NBA Third Team honours, while putting up 11.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 2.4 bpg.
Rasheed Wallace 2004-2005: The heart of the Pistons walked around with that WWE belt all season. He averaged 14.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 1.5 bpg, but most importantly - ball don’t lie.
NBA Coach: 1976-2010
3 X COTY, Naismith Hall of Fame
Tim Hardaway 1991-1992: Killing cats with his crossover, all the way to the All-NBA Second Team, Tim Bug was scoring 23.4 points, dropping 10 dimes, and snatching 2 steals a game on the season.
Dirk Nowitzki 2004-2005: With the departure of his buddy Steve Nash, Dirk one leg faded into full form, making All-NBA First Team on 26.6 ppg, 9 rpg & .399 3-Point FG %.
Steve Nash 2001-2002: Nash made his mark with Nellie, and broke out for an All-NBA Third Team campaign with 17.9 ppg, & 7.7 apg on .455% 3-point shooting.
Chris Mullin 1991-1992: Making the flat-top famous from beyond the 3 point line Mullin was All-NBA First Team and an NBA All-Star. With a ridiculous stat line of 25.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.1 spg ,524 FG %. Mullin was slow motion unstoppable.
Mitch Richmond 1990-1991: The “M” in Run TMC should’ve stood for “money” as Mitch came through with the buckets averaging 23.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg.
NBA Coach: 1996-Present
San Antonio Spurs
5 X NBA Champion, 3 X COTY
Tim Duncan 2002-2003: MVP, Finals MVP, All-NBA First Team, All-Defensive First Team, 23.3 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg. Fundamentally sound.
Tony Parker 2006-2007: The first European to ever win Finals MVP. Tony didn’t only show up in the big moments, averaging 18.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, and shooting .520% from the field for the season.
Manu Ginobili 2007-2008: Named 6th Man of the Year, Manu was a key cog for the Spurs, making the All-NBA Third Team, and Euro-stepping his way to a 16.5 ppg. 4.4 rpg, & 3.5 apg.
David Robinson 1997-1998: The Admiral was decorated with All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive Second Team honours, and sailed through the season with 21.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg & 2.6 bpg.
Kawhi Leonard 2015-2016: How much can those big hands carry? Defensive Player of the Year, 2nd in MVP voting, All-NBA First Team, NBA All-Defensive First Team and 21.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg & 1.8 spg.
NBA Coach: 1988-2011
Naismith Hall of Fame
John Stockton 1988-1989: It’s baffling that he led the NBA in assists and steals, with 17.1 ppg, 13.6 apg, 3.2 spg, on .538 % FG but was only good enough to notch All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive Second Team honours.
Karl Malone 1996-1997: MVP. All-NBA First Team. All-Defensive First Team. Led the Jazz to their first Finals on 27.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 4.5 apg, .550% FG. The Mailman delivered.
Andrei Kirilenko 2005-2006: AK-47 could lock up anyone, which is why he was on the NBA All-Defensive First Team, but he was also a multi-tool player. Check the stats; 15.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 3.2 bpg & 1.5 spg.
Deron Williams 2009-2010: His game isn’t necessarily eye-popping, but his numbers were, 18.7 ppg, 10.5 apg & 1.3 spg. This is when he was regarded as one of the top PG’s in the league, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team.
Mark Eaton 1984-1985: A pillar in the paint, Defensive Player of the Year, and the league leader in blocks with 5.6 bpg! Eaton was also good for 9.7 ppg and 11.3 rpg and obviously All-Defensive First Team honours.
NBA Coach: 2008-Present
2 x NBA Champion
Dwyane Wade 2008-2009: Wade put the Heat on his back leading the league in scoring at 30.2 ppg. But they didn’t select him for All-NBA First Team just because he gets buckets, he averaged 7.5 apg & 5.0 rpg and was named to NBA All-Defensive Second Team as well.
Chris Bosh 2010-2011: While not as dominant as earlier in his career, Bosh didn’t disappoint in South Beach, averaging 18.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg, as likely the best third option ever.
LeBron James 2012-2013: Not one... but this was his second NBA title, MVP. and Finals MVP. LeBron averaged, 26.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg & 7.3 apg, with All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team honours in the process.
Ray Allen 2012-2013: And the winner for best performance in a supporting role is… Sugar Ray. He shot .419% from the 3-point line and averaged 10.9 ppg off the bench, never forget Game 6 vs the Spurs.
Jimmy Butler 2019-2020: Jimmy Buckets made Miami his free agent destination and didn't forget to pack his toughness and leadership along with 20.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.1 apg, & 1.7 spg.