1. Will Hardy (Assistant Coach)
If the Houston Rockets are looking to revamp their outlook totally, they could turn to youth in the coaching department. Going from 69-year-old Mike D’Antoni to someone just one year older than Russell Westbrook and James Harden would indeed be flipping the script, but there are plenty of reasons Will Hardy should be considered.
The San Antonio Spurs just ended a streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances in which they made it to the NBA Finals six times and won five championships. Hardy has been involved with them for the last 10 years, working his way up from video coordinator to alongside Popovich on the bench as an assistant coach.
“He’s a good learner and became someone who understood what was important as far as winning and losing — and more than that, development on an individual basis for a player,” said Popovich after Hardy’s promotion in 2016. “They respected him. He knew how to work with players without being too authoritarian. They wanted to learn from him.”
As Jabari Young explained further in his 2016 column, Hardy’s youth allows him to connect to players on a social level while also maintaining a balance of being the respected coach of the team.
“You still have to command a little bit of respect as someone who they are going to listen to,” said Hardy. “I just try to be somebody who they knew was going to bring a lot of energy every day and somebody that was going to be here working hard.”
Hardy recently served on the coaching staff for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup, working with several NBA superstars in that tournament.
Hardy is primed to make his own name in the league, already impressing the New York Knicks in their search.
Two young head coaching candidates who made a strong impression on the Knicks in the search process, per sources: Dallas' Jamahl Mosley and San Antonio's Will Hardy.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 25, 2020
The Indiana Pacers are also set to interview Hardy for their head coach position, along with number two on this list.
Next: Candidate #2