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NBA Coach Rankings: How Does the Suns Alvin Gentry Rank?

 Mike Prada over at SB has published a post ranking NBA coaches top to bottom.  While my instinct is to take guys whose franchises have tons of cash to spend on talent, and rank them near the bottom, it is no given that talent=championships. The Mavericks, for example, have the luxury of Cuban and his bank account, but they only recently broke through. For a coach to corral the egos to formulate a streamlined squad, focused on one thing-winning is pretty difficult. So, Rick Carlisle at #2 doesn't bother me much. Pops at #1 seems accurate although I dislike him as a person. He continues to win with an aging squad while developing some randoms into key contributors. Personally, I'd have a difficult time not putting Scott Brooks between 1-3 as his team is very young. Young an crazy talented, yes, but still, to keep them in line and winning isn't a cake walk.

And now, for what y'all have been waiting for. Alvin Gentry...Here is Prada's blurb:

 

19. Alvin Gentry, Phoenix Suns (13): Again, the fact that a guy like Gentry is so low is telling with the level of talent in the league. The work he did in 2010 to lead the Suns to the Western Conference Finals was particularly noteworthy, and he's forgotten more about player-to-player psychology than I will ever know. That said, I do think the lack of development from Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic is a bit troubling for someone who is known for making the most out of an individual's talent. Also, while he's been dealt some pretty awful hands in Detroit and with the Clippers, he still only can point to one year where he coached anything close to an elite team.

Some of the comments I agree with, and some I disagree with:

  • The work he did in 2010 to lead the Suns to the Western Conference Finals was particularly noteworthy, and he's forgotten more about player-to-player psychology than I will ever know.

Totally agreed. Alvin is a player's coach.  He's kept the locker room together even amid the annual Amar'e Stoudemire trade orgy, as well as some significant changes both in the FO and on the court. The players trust, respect, and like Alvin which keeps them trying, even when the front office puts together a less than mediocre group of talent.

  • That said, I do think the lack of development from Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic is a bit troubling for someone who is known for making the most out of an individual's talent.

Disagree.  I won't disagree that the Suns have serious problems developing young talent. But really, how much young talent has Gentry been allowed to hold onto for more than a couple of hours? Earl Clark? Isn't he in China? Blame Steve Kerr, don't blame Gentry for that train wreck. Robin Lopez has battled injuries for two years, and not just nagging little things, but a back injury which will likely continue to plague him for as long as he plays, and foot and knee injuries that kept him off the court for several weeks. How often do athletes get injured then immediately return to their own top form? Not often. And for Robin, it's a totally different story. He of the broken glass door and continued temper tantrums and God-knows-what-else needs more than a coach to sort him out. Maybe blame Gentry if he were a shrink and gave RobLo the wrong psyche meds.

As far as Dragic goes, again I don't blame Gentry. Many of us hated the trade, but let's be honest, Goran had plenty of chances to solidify his spot as backup to Nash and heir apparent, but aside from a few excellent performances and streaks of consistency, he was never consistent enough to be counted on. What went wrong? You tell me, but it wasn't a lack of talent. It was clear Goran's confidence level and decision making ability was all over the globe. At some point the same voice from the same coach start's sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher: you need a change of scenery, and that odd "toe cut on glass" injury that was never fully explained didn't help his cause.  Now whether Goran Dragic should have been traded or not, that's a different discussion for a different day.

 

  • Also, while he's been dealt some pretty awful hands in Detroit and with the Clippers, he still only can point to one year where he coached anything close to an elite team.

Agreed. He lost Amar'e, lost his GM who was bent on signing Amare and continuing the winning, and then he got Hedo/Warrick/Chill and Lon Babby dumped on him. He didn't complain, he made no excuses. He worked with what he had and that's why Alvin Gentry deserves a higher ranking than Mike D'Antoni, Mike Brown, Frank Vogel and a bunch of others that are ranked higher than him.

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