Ranking the NBA's new coaches

Which new hires have made the most (or least) impact early in the season?

Updated: December 5, 2013, 3:36 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

HornacekJennifer Stewart/USA TODAY Sports Jeff Hornacek has taken a Suns team predicted to finish as the NBA's worst to a 10-9 record.

Nearly half the teams in the NBA made coaching changes in the offseason, a shocking rate of turnover. Some of the moves were predictable, others were head-scratchers. When the dust settled, 13 teams had new coaches, nine of whom had never before held down the lead job. With nearly a fifth of the 2013-14 season already in the books, it's far too early to pass judgment on the new bosses. We can, however, examine some tendencies and styles of the new group, and look at their fit with their new teams.

The coaches are "ranked" by the difference between their expected record (based on my ATH projection system, adjusted for early-season player availability and schedule) and actual performance (as measured by Pythagorean wins.) There are a lot of factors that play into this differential, and it is by no means a perfect way to evaluate coaches, especially given the sample size.

Consider the following hierarchy a jumping-off point for further discussion. Just three of the 13 new coaches have outperformed their teams' projection, and all three are first-time bosses. In fact, three of the four largest negative differentials have been put up by veteran coaches who switched teams, with only Doc Rivers escaping the trend.

Note: The number of "expected wins" and "Pythagorean wins" below are over the course of the 18 games played thus far this season and were the result of 1,000 simulations.


1. Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns
Plus-6.1 (Expected wins: 3.4 through 18 games / Pythagorean wins: 9.5 through 18 games)

The early reviews on Hornacek have been universally positive. ATH projected the Suns as the worst team in the league. After winning at Houston on Wednesday, the Suns stand at 10-9. Phoenix has leaped from 29th to ninth in offensive efficiency and has improved four spots in the defensive rankings. Hornacek has ridden excellent shot selection to the NBA's sixth-best effective field goal percentage. The preseason Suns were angling for the top spot in the 2014 draft, so maybe Hornacek is doing too good of a job.