• 'nique

The 'nique Coach's Challenge vol.1

Updated: May 24

Illustration by Casey Bannerman

It takes a certain type of person to be a head coach. It’s the players put that ball in the basket and win championships, while the coach draws the plays, manages the personalities and shoulders the blame. A great coach wins wherever they go, but it's debatable they're only as good as the players they put on the floor. We’re not here to argue their merits, we’re here for the drama.


Former NBA Coach of the Year, George Karl gave an interview where he put together a top five of the best players he managed over his 27-year coaching career, it included Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Ray Allen. So we decided to look at some elite NBA coaches and make a top five of players they had in their prime. We’ll leave it to you to decide who’s best, we’ll just be sitting over here eating our popcorn.

Phil Jackson

NBA Coach: 1989-2011

Chicago Bulls/Los Angeles Lakers

11 X NBA Champion, 1996 COTY, Naismith Hall of Fame


Michael Jordan 1992-1993: Completed his first three-peat, and was named Finals MVP. Led the league in scoring (32.6 ppg) as well as steals (2.8 ppg) and was named All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team - pretty near unstoppable.


Scottie Pippen 1993-1994: In his first season without Jordan, he made both All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team, as well as named MVP of the ‘94 All-Star Game. His 22 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game, were all career highs to go along with 5.7 assists - Pip was unleashed.


Pau Gasol 2009-2010: Coming off his first championship, Pau didn’t let up, scoring 18.3 ppg with 11.3 rpg. In Game 7 of the NBA Finals he finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds, spoiler alert: they won again - La Bestia!


Shaquille O’Neal 1999-2000: MVP. Finals MVP. All-Star Game MVP. Led the league in scoring 30.7 ppg, plus 15.4 rebounds and earned his BA degree from LSU - The Big Dominance.


Kobe Bryant 2005-2006: His last season wearing #8 and scores 81 points in a game, while leading the league in scoring with 35.4 ppg. He had 27, 40-point games during the season and was named All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team - Mamba Mentality.

Chuck Daly

NBA Coach: 1981-1982, 1983-1999

CLE/DET/NJN/ORL

2 X NBA Champion, Naismith Hall of Fame


Isiah Thomas 1984-1985: His season shined as bright as his smile, with All-NBA First Team honours, a 13.9 league-leading assist average and a cool 21.2 ppg.


Derrick Coleman 1992-1993: Even in tie-dye Coleman made the All-NBA Third Team. With a career-high in points, 20.7 ppg along with 11.2 rpg, he put the ‘power’ in power forward.


Dennis Rodman 1991-1992: The board man gets paid. The Worm led the league in rebounding with 18.8 per game. Earning All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA Third Team nods, plus an All-Star appearance, despite averaging 9.6 ppg.

Kenny Anderson 1993-1994: Mr. Chibbs is the quintessential point guard; handles, dimes and buckets, earning his sole NBA All-Star appearance averaging 18.8 ppg and 9.6 apg.


Joe Dumars 1988-1989: While Dumars’ game is understated, his season wasn’t; 17.2 ppg, a career high 5.7 apg, All-Defensive First Team and a Finals MVP.

Doc Rivers

NBA Coach: 1999-2020

ORL, BOS, LAC

2008 NBA Champion, 2000 COTY


Paul Pierce 2007-2008: The Truth won his first NBA Championship and was named Finals MVP. His stat line for the season: 19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.6 apg and one wheelchair.

Kevin Garnett 2007-2008: The epitome of intensity and the heart of his team, KG was the Defensive Player of the Year as well as All-NBA First Team. The NBA Champion let us know that “Anything is possible!!”

Chris Paul 2013-2014: The ‘P” in CP3 stands for prototype; All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team, while leading the league in assists to the tune of 10.7 apg, with 19.1 ppg & 2.5 spg.

Tracy McGrady 2002-2003: T-Mac was on a tear, leading the league in scoring with 32.1 ppg. He notched All-NBA First Team honours and finished fourth in MVP voting.

Grant Hill 2004-2005: Despite suffering from injuries, Hill still put together an All-Star season, averaging 19.7 ppg on .507% from the field and won the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

George Karl

NBA Coach: 1984-88, 1992-2016

CLE/GS/SEA/MIL/DEN/SAC

2013 COTY


Gary Payton 1995-1996: The Defensive Player of the Year, led the league in steals with 2.9 per game. He also helped the Sonics to a franchise best 64-win season and a trip to the NBA Finals, averaging 19.3 ppg, and 7.5 apg.


Carmelo Anthony 2009-2010: His elite scoring at 28.2 ppg and All-NBA Second Team honours comes as no surprise. But Melo proved he could score and win as well, with another 50+ win season.


Ray Allen 2000-2001: Named to the All-NBA Third Team averaging 22 ppg, Sugar Ray was on fire making .433% from beyond the arc and winning the Three-Point Contest.


Chauncey Billups 2009-2010: His leadership is a given, but Mr. Big Shot went off for the best scoring season of his career to the tune of 19.5 ppg, while playing alongside a ball dominant Carmelo Anthony.


Shawn Kemp 1995-1996: The Reign Man’s 19.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and infinite posters earned him a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. He was key to the Sonics run, winning a franchise-best 64 games and a trip to the NBA Finals, where he put up 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Lenny Wilkens

NBA Coach: 1969-1972, 1974-2005

SEA/POR/SEA/CLE/ATL/TOR/NYK

1979 NBA Champion, 1994 COTY, Naismith Hall of Fame


Vince Carter 2000-2001: A career high 27.6 ppg landed Vinsanity on the All-NBA Second Team. He shot .408% from three, but could just as easily put you on a poster, making him doubly dangerous.


Mark Price 1992-1993: Overlooked often, but not by the league as Price was All-NBA First Teamer. He averaged 18.2 ppg, 8.0 apg and shot .416% from distance, winning the Three-Point Contest.


Brad Daugherty 1991-1992: Daughetry was named to the All-NBA Third team and averaged 21.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg. He led the Cavs to the Eastern Conference Finals, but came up short against you know who.


Dominique Wilkins 1993-1994: In his last season as a Hawk, ‘Nique still got buckets at a 26 ppg clip. He was elite enough to make the All-NBA Third Team and electric as an NBA All-Star.


Tom Chambers 1984-1985: In only his fourth season in the league, Chambers had solid stats, averaging 21.5 ppg and 7.1 rpg, showing signs of what's to come.

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