Warriors Rankings: Mike Montgomery, Coach #20
We mentioned last week that we'll be ranking each of the Warriors starters and coach against each of the other teams' starters and coach in the league. Let’s take a look at our coach, Mike Montgomery, and how he compares to the other coaches in the league. First off, he is clearly not yet amongst the elite coaches, nor is he amongst my top 10 which are, in no particular order: George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, Rick Adelman, Jerry Sloan, and Flip Saunders. The next 7 have had playoff success recently and proven to be able to generate wins: Mike D’Antoni, Avery Johnson, Nate McMillan, Maurice Cheeks, Scott Skiles, Doc Rivers, and Lawrence Frank. I consider Monty worse than the next 2, Mike Dunleavy and Byron Scott but ranked just ahead of Brian Hill and Eddie Jordan. So he fits right in there at #20. Based on the finish last year, I have confidence that he's better than the bottom 10 with the potential to move up. The rest of the coaches below are those in their first year or haven’t proved enough to move up this list. It's a little hard to rate Monty because he's only had 1 year, so what follows are my reasons for placing him right on the cusp of being an above average coach. Let's look at the job he's done over the past year.
He was an amazing college coach, but you can count the number of college coaches who have made a successful jump from the college ranks to the pros on one hand. Mullin took a big risk in hiring the local Stanford coach, but he wanted to make a splash with his first major move and he achieved that. Monty started out rocky, the first part of the ’04-’05 season looked absolutely ugly. But that was BBD (sorry not Bell Biv Devoe, “Before Baron Davis”) and we all know what happened then.
You have to give Monty credit for getting Baron to buy into the team and not being a distraction as he was in New Orleans. Think about what Baron heard when he got traded:
Hornets GM: “Hey Baron since you we can’t get any production out of you, we’re trading you to the Warriors. Good luck with that cursed franchise.”One player can make a huge difference like Baron has, but you need the right coach to integrate him into the team. There have been plenty of talented players jumping to other teams for a “change of scenery” and ended up a failure. If you credit Monty with the losses earlier, shouldn’t you credit him with the wins later?
Baron: “The Warriors?!! They haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years. Thanks, this will be great for my career. The best thing about their team is the cheerleaders.”
Much of a coach’s success is dependent on the talent on your roster. You can’t be considered an elite coach with a bunch of NBDL players on your team. Until Monty got some more talent on his team in the form of Baron Davis, he had success. So many people loved Muss, but St Jean gave Muss more talent than the previous coaches and that’s part of the reason for the increase in wins. Monty’s critics last year said that he was horrible and called for Musselman’s return, but if you look at the players Monty had versus the players Muss had, there’s no comparison; Muss had much better talent (Hughes, Jamison, Arenas, Dampier, JRich, Murphy). So the skewering of Monty was quite unfair especially considering the big offseason moves were drafting a foul prone Euro project, signing Adonal to be our starting center, and signing Fisher to be our starting point guard. But we won’t get into that debate again. I’m not saying I love Monty, but give him a chance. Obviously Monty is still learning on the job, and he has struggled at times, but in the end, I think he’ll be around for at least another 4-5 years. There have been so many articles recently saying how much improved Monty is and how much more confident he’s become. Plus he now has the roster to make a serious run at the playoffs. Look for that difference to show up in the win column.
Monty has much to prove before he makes the jump into the top half of the coaches in this league. Basically the only coaches ranked lower than Monty are the new coaches or the ones who have much to prove as Monty does, while the ones ranked higher have proven to have success at this level. I have faith that Monty can move up the list. Monty has to win this year to move up this list and if the Warriors falter and lose, his job will be in jeopardy. Jump on the Monty-wagon, he’ll be considered a top 15 coach by the end of the year when the Warriors make the playoffs.
Where do you think Monty ranks?