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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Nick Nurse (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nick Nurse (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The “Championship” Tier:

  • Rick Carlisle – Dallas Mavericks
  • Doc Rivers – LA Clippers
  • Erik Spoelstra – Miami Heat
  • Nick Nurse – Toronto Raptors

We have finally reached the tier with Nick Nurse, but not without a debate certainly. More on that in a few, but let’s talk about the other coaches first.

Carlisle, Rivers, and Spoelstra are all championship-winning coaches. They’ve cultivated quality teams, implemented systems, and dealt with nagging injuries or inner-team dramatics to prevail. Spoelstra and Rivers were supposed to win with their amalgamated Big Threes–and they did–but it wasn’t without some teetering beliefs.

Carlisle won when he wasn’t supposed to do so, but he moved his name further into the pantheon of head coaching by doing so. In fact, he and Dirk Nowitzki may have had the biggest boost in their overall careers because of the 2011 Finals. Carlisle can rest easy with the weight off of his shoulders.

Then, there’s Nick Nurse who is ranked in this tier, but not without a lot of thought beforehand. It would have been easy to rank Nurse in the “Right Place, Right Time” tier and made it known that he was the king of the tier. But, that didn’t seem fair to Nurse, since he did deserve and win the championship–with the help of Kawhi Leonard and timely injuries, of course.

As best as I can put it, Nurse really tiptoes the line between the two tiers. On one hand, if he falters for the next few seasons, then he’ll have to reduce himself to the “Right Place, Right Time” tier. On the other hand, if he can provide winning or even middling teams amidst roster reconstruction, then he may have evidence to keep him in the “Championship” tier.

It remains to be seen if he’ll be a one-hit-wonder á la “Scrubs” by TLC or if he’ll prove to be a revolutionary, unforeseen God with the tunes from angels like Led Zeppelin.