The Warriors had the best record in the west, the league MVP, and now they are going to the NBA Finals. On the flip side, the Cavaliers fought to make it to the playoffs, have the King, and are also going to the finals. They’ve both achieved new levels of success all with first time head coaches, Steve Kerr and David Blatt.
Golden State is undoubtedly an excellent ball club. They have continually made a turnaround following 2011 where they had a 23 wins and 43 losses in one season.
The starting 5 players for the warriors were on the roster the previous year. So, what’s the difference? Enter Steve Kerr a basketball legend himself that made a good team a great one.
Like A Virgin
“Always loose, the vibe is always loose. And yet [he] always knows when to focus in,” said Draymond Green in regards to Kerr in a Mercury News write up.
Steve Kerr is a fun guy and it comes out in how he coaches. In the aforementioned article, Kerr is the type of guy to edit a video of himself rapping in the 80s into game footage and “he’s predictably unpredictable,” says GM Bob Myers.
Even with his fun personalty, he’s got a fiery one as well. Kerr has 7 technical fouls for the season. He gets in the game, and he’s passionate about it. He couples his dynamic and tenacious hunger for wins with a goofy laid-back demeanor and it has equaled success.
Lastly, the real story behind the warriors is the offense. Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal says, “under Steve Kerr, things are different. The Warriors are… flourishing on the offensive end.”
Which is true, Kerr’s offense utilizes Curry on the wing, Klay as a driver and a penetrator, not just a spot up shooter, and Andrew Bogut as a passer. NBA.com databases shows that over thirty percent of Curry’s shot attempts have happened within two seconds of him touching the ball that’s a testament to him being open and able to create space because of an efficient offense.
A League not of his own
Enter David Blatt on the other side of the finals, a rookie head coach that has received the same measure of success (Reaching the finals) but not quite with the same appreciation. SBNation says, “David Blatt has become somewhat of a punchline because it often looks like he holds no power whatsoever.”
The rookie coach has been tasked with coaching Lebron in Cleveland which is no easy-feat. Sports Illustrated reported, “David Blatt congratulated LeBron James,” after the win over the Hawks. Nothing about respect for the coach or how Blatt has led Cleveland to victory. But all about Blatt’s deference to LeBron.
There have even been articles regarding Blatt’s incompetence. USA Today wrote that James has to overcome Blatt’s lack of coaching in order to win games. “It’s absurd to say, but the Cavaliers are winning in spite of Blatt,” said Mike Foss of USA Today.
So, sometimes being a rookie coach isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be.
Rookies play with the bigs boys
If the past is an indicator of the future, maybe Steve Kerr will take the title since he was a past player himself, most notably with the Chicago Bulls.
David Blatt has never played for the league, but he did “play point guard for [Princeton],” according to Grantland.com.
All in all this finals will be momentous one, “for the first time since the league’s inaugural season” two rookie coaches have come head to head in the finals according to NBA.com Regardless of the winner, both are joining an elite club and are eyeing more successful championship runs in the years to come.