Where does Nick Nurse rank among NBA coaches?

Toronto Raptors - Nick Nurse (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Nick Nurse (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
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The “I Can’t See Him Winning a Championship” Tier:

  • Nate McMillan – Indiana Pacers
  • Frank Vogel – LA Lakers
  • David Fizdale – New York Knicks
  • Steve Clifford – Orlando Magic
  • Monty Williams – Phoenix Suns

These coaches have coached good teams recently or in the past, but they never seem to quite have the “it” factor to get them over the hump. Meanwhile, they’re respected among the league–and may even one day win a championship–but it’s hard to imagine the “NBA Champion” moniker preceding their name.

McMillan is a quality coach, he showed his wherewithal after Victor Oladipo went down with a season-ending injury. But, the Pacers are stuck in Eastern Conference purgatory and until they get another star alongside Oladipo, their championship hopes hang by a thread.

Vogel is the most unique coach on this list. He’s been on good teams and led some of the Danny Granger Pacers teams to the brink with the LeBron James-led Heat. Now, he has LeBron. Yet the reason I can’t ignore about Vogel not winning a championship isn’t about him, really. It’s the fact that if things go south this upcoming season, then he’ll be the fall guy and Jason Kidd will be there to pry the reins out of his cold, dead, thrown-under-the-bus hands. Sorry, Vogel.

Clifford coached up an Orlando Magic squad that even made Raptors fans chew their nails after Game 1 in the playoffs. But, let’s be real–the Magic didn’t upgrade. When they finally do, if they ever do, Clifford might be in a retirement home rather than marching the sidelines.

Fizdale and Williams are in a similar position: They both have young, up-and-coming teams at their hands. Fizdale was a smart coach with Spoelstra and he deserved his shot at a head coaching gig. Williams is ostensibly adored by NBA players, but has never seen much success on the court. Championship head coaching isn’t in their blood, but connecting and developing skills certainly is, which is why they’ve been mainstays.