According to reports, former Golden State Warriors head coach and current ABC NBA analyst Mark Jackson is the front-runner to become the next head coach of the Sacramento Kings. Warriors assistant head coach Mike Brown and former Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford are also finalists for the job.
In three seasons (2011-12 through 2013-2014) as Warriors head coach Jackson compiled an 121-109 record. He led the team to the playoffs in two of his three seasons and guided the early development of the team’s legendary big three of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson.
Jackson was an All-Star and rookie of the year as a player, he no doubt understands the game and can coach.
The Kings are reportedly prioritizing head coaching experience and a defensive-minded identity, boxes Jackson checks. It’s also been reported that Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive wants a vocal leader who can be the day-to-day face and identity for the organization. As a former player and ubiquitous broadcaster Jackson scores favorably here as well.
But is he the right coach for this job and what has he learned in the past eight years that will allow him to have better success?
The game and the league have changed over thepast eight years. While Jackson has had a front row seat to witness said changes, he still talks about the game like it’s the 1990s, particularly on the offensive end.
That was part of the issue he had in Golden State. Yes, he developed their defensive identity, as they ranked third in aDRTG in his final season. But he had Curry, Green, and Thompson and couldn’t unlock the offense. They were 13th in aORTG.
The following year new head coach Steve Kerr unlocked the offense, utilizing Green as a facilitator and the elite shooting of Curry and Thompson. The team finished second in aORTG and won the title.
The Kings were 14th in aORTG and 27th in aDRTG this past season. With a poor defender like De’Aaron Fox at the point of attack, Jackson will have his work cut out for him. But the cupboard isn’t bare.
Davion Mitchell and Richaun Holmes can defend, and there are creative ways he can work with that roster, which will include draft picks and offseason signings.
At the end of the day Ranadive wants this team to make the playoffs. They have the longest active streak in the NBA of not making the playoffs, at 16 years and counting. In order for that to happen the team needs stability.
Since becoming owner and team chairman in 2013, instability has been a constant in the Kings organization. The next head coach will be the seventh during that time span, and they have had four different lead executives of basketball operations.
A coach that is somewhat dogmatic in his approach and an owner that has fostered a culture of instability, what could go wrong?
If Ranadive wants to make the playoffs everyone inside that organization needs to be put in a position to succeed. Monte McNair and the front office, Jackson or whoever is going to be the next coach, as well as the players on the court.