15 NBA Head Coaches During Their Playing Days

Does being a good NBA player make someone a good NBA head coach? About half of the league’s coaches didn’t play in the NBA, including the most recent NBA champion, Erik Spoelstra. His finals opponent, Scott Brooks, did play, actually winning the NBA title as a player, just like Avery Johnson, Byron Scott, Rick Carlisle, Lionel Hollins and Kevin McHale.

Scott Brooks

The NBA head coach of the year in 2010 (with the Oklahoma City Thunder) played 10 seasons in the NBA, winning the title with the Houston Rockets in 1994, also playing for the Sixers, Timberwolves, Mavs, Knicks and Cavaliers, averaging 4.9 points throughout his career.

Rick Carlisle

The head coach of the Dallas Mavericks since 2008, an NBA Champions as a coach in 2011 and coach of the year (Pacers) in 2002, Carlisle spent only 5 seasons as a player with the Boston Celtics (winning the title in 1986), the Knicks and the Nets, averaging 2.2 points in 7.8 minutes a night.

Doug Collins

Now the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and a head coach (with stops) since 1986, Collins spent his entire NBA career (8 seasons) with the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 17.9 points from 1973-1981, making 4 all-star games and retiring early, at the age of 30, due to a serious injury he couldn’t rebound from.

Tyrone Corbin

Corbin has been the head coach of the Utah Jazz since Jerry Sloan resigned in February 2011, amassing a 44-50 record thus far and making it to the postseason in 2012. As a player, Corbin, a small forward, spent 16 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Spurs, Cavs, Suns, Timberwolves, Jazz, Hawks, Kings, Heat and Raptors, averaging 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Vinny Del Negro

Vinny Del Negro has been the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers over the last couple of seasons, leading the team to the postseason for the first time since 2006 last year. As a player, Del Negro spent 13 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Kings, Spurs, Bucks, Warriors and Suns, averaging 9.1 points per game.

Larry Drew

Larry Drew has been the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks over the last couple of seasons. He played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Kings, Pistons, Clippers and Lakers, averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 assists during his career.

Lionel Hollins

The head coach of the Grizzlies (as a full time coach) since 2008, making the postseason twice, Hollins played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers, 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Pistons and the Rockets. He won the NBA title with the Blazers in 1977 and made the All-Star game in 1978. He averaged 11.6 points during his career.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson will be the first head coach for the Nets in their new locale of Brooklyn, beginning his third season with the team. He played 16 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Sonics, Nuggets, Spurs, Rockets, Warriors and Mavericks before retiring in 2004, winning the NBA title with the Spurs in 1999 and averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 assists during his career.

George Karl

One of the leagues most experiences head coaches, Karl has been coaching (with a couple of breaks) in the NBA since 1984 and has been the head coach of the Denver Nuggets for the last 8 seasons, making the playoffs each time. As a player, Karl only played for the San Antonio Spurs, three years in the ABA and then two more seasons after the merger with the NBA, averaging 6.5 points per game during his career before becoming an assistant coach with the Spurs.

Kevin McHale

A head coach (with stops in the middle) since 2005, McHale is entering his second season with the Houston Rockets after going 34-32 last season. He spent his entire NBA career with the Boston Celtics, winning three NBA titles and making 7 All-Star games, averaging 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds through 13 NBA seasons, earning him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Mark Jackson

Entering his second year as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors (23-43 in the first season), Jackson played 17 seasons in the NBA from 1987 to 2004, playing for the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, averaging 9.6 points and 8 assists throughout his career, ranking third on the NBA’s all-time assist list.

Doc Rivers

The head coach of the Boston Celtics over the last 8 seasons and a two-time NBA coach of the year winner, Rivers played 13 seasons in the NBA with the Hawks, Clippers, Knicks and San Antonio Spurs, averaging 10.9 points and 5.7 assists in 864 games, making one NBA all-star game and also winning, prior to his NBA career, the FIBA World Championship MVP in 1982.

Byron Scott

Byron Scott is the current head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA coach of the year in 2008 during his time with the Hornets. In the NBA, he played for the Lakers, Pacers and the Grizzlies, winning three NBA titles during his Laker days. He averaged 14.1 points per game throughout his career, which spanned over 1000 games.

Scott Skiles

Skiles has been the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks over the past four seasons and in the NBA since 2001. He played 10 seasons in the NBA, most notably for the Orlando Magic with whom he also set the still standing NBA record for assists in a game (30). He also played for the Bucks, Pacers, Bullets and 76ers, averaging 11.1 points and 6.5 assists per game.

Monty Williams

Entering his third season as the head coach of the rebuilding New Orleans Hornets (67-81 so far), Williams played nine seasons in the NBA, playing for the Knicks, Spurs, Nuggets, Magic and Sixers from 1994 to 2003, averaging 6.3 points per game.

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