No superstars needed

These five coaches are doing the most with less this season

Updated: March 10, 2012, 3:10 PM ET
By John Carroll | ESPN Insider
Doug CollinsJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesCollins has created a teaching atmosphere in Philadelphia and his players have bought in.

Very few coaches are ever afforded the opportunity to coach a special talent like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant, much less all of them. It requires a special coach possessing superior communication skills to mesh players of that elite level with the rank and file to win multiple championships. That is why Phil Jackson should rank as one of the greatest coaches in basketball history. He was able to motivate the most talented players on his bench just as well as the least.

Though Jackson was blessed with uber-talented players, the average coach toils with far less and/or young rosters. They don't have the luxury of a roster filled with All-Stars who can get the team an important basket late in the shot clock or fourth quarter. Rather, most coaches must mold a team, develop a defensive identity and install an offense that best fits his personnel and puts them in the best position to succeed. Indeed, the mark of a true coach is getting the most out of what he has, regardless of talent level.

Here are the top five coaches in the NBA this season at getting the most out of their teams.

1. Doug Collins

Doug Collins combines old-school fundamentals and discipline with youthful exuberance. Collins was Jordan's first NBA coach, but with the Philadelphia 76ers he has no superstar. After a surprising 2010-11 campaign, this season Collins has his squad atop the Atlantic Division. He's improved the Sixers' defense, as they currently lead the league in two of the top defensive categories: points allowed per game (87.0) and field goal percentage defense (.415).

John Carroll

Scouts, Basketball Recruiting
John Carroll joined Scouts Inc. after nine years as an NBA coach, including a seven-year tenure with the Boston Celtics that concluded with a four-month stint as interim head coach in 2003-04. Before joining the NBA, Carroll spent six years as head coach at Duquesne University and seven years at Seton Hall as an assistant to head coach P.J. Carlesimo.