Ranking top 10 NBA coaches: Where Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni lands

Anthony Duckett
Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Nick Nurse Toronto Raptors
Nick Nurse Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images) /

10. Nick Nurse-Toronto Raptors

Nick Nurse just won a championship with the Toronto Raptors, so he could be higher on this list, but he’s only been at the helm for one season. That is in no way saying he’s not one of the best coaches in the league, but the reality is the Raptors won the title in part to the Golden State Warriors losing some of their best players to injury. Both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson missed most of the season and Golden State played without a fully healthy DeMarcus Cousins. Not to mention, one year as a head coach is simply too small of a sample size.

Nonetheless, Nurse was able to lead the Raptors to their first championship in franchise history. He was also able to help Toronto come back and advance to the next round after trailing in consecutive series. The Raptors were down 1-2 to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals but were able to come back and knock off the Sixers in seven games. In addition, they were down 0-2 to the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, yet were able to go on to win the next four games consecutively to advance to the NBA Finals.

The real test for Nurse will come this season, without 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard on the roster. Nurse will be relying on Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol to lead the way this season, which will show just how elite of a coach he is. The Raptors could very well slide OG Anunoby into the rotation in place of Kawhi Leonard, which isn’t all bad. This is because Anunoby is a 35 percent career shooter from deep and averaged 12.5 points per 36 minutes last season.

Nurse also got significant contributions last season from Fred VanVleet, who now has championship experience under his belt and has an established role as the Sixth Man for the Raptors.

Outside of the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Eastern Conference is up for grabs, which should give Nurse and the Raptors an opportunity to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. Even though they lost Kawhi Leonard to free agency, the Raps still have solid pieces that should be good enough to make some noise, especially if Nick Nurse is an elite coach.

Next: Malone