Despite not having coached a single NBA game, Steve Kerr was a hot commodity on the coaching market. Now that Kerr has spurned Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks in favor of the Golden State Warriors, the main question surrounding Kerr is not who he will coach, but how he will coach.
The Warriors have a talented roster that boasts the versatility to play in different ways effectively when fully stocked. They have an elite point guard in Stephen Curry who can both run the offense and shoot the lights out. Klay Thompson has always been a terrific shooter and he's improving in other areas. Andre Iguodala is the do-it-all defender on the wing, while Andrew Bogut and David Lee form a solid one-two punch down low. Draymond Green has turned himself into a valuable complementary piece, and although Harrison Barnes struggled this year, there is still plenty of talent there that can be unlocked.
Because of this talent, the Warriors have the ability to play both traditional and small lineups. Green and Barnes can play power forward when needed, and both have done it well at times. Green thrived as this position against the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs, while Barnes enjoyed similar success in last year's postseason.
But while going small is a nice option for Golden State, Kerr may prefer the more traditional two-big setup. When Kerr was running the Phoenix Suns, he traded away Shawn Marion (a key player for the Seven Seconds or Less Suns) for Shaquille O'Neal in an attempt to become a more effective team in half-court situations on both ends of the floor. Going more traditional certainly wouldn't be a bad option for the Warriors, as the five-man starting lineup featuring Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Lee and Bogut was one of the best in the NBA.
Golden State of Mind
Kerr did give some insight Wednesday night on how he envisions his offense looking in Golden State. Kerr's familiarity with the Triangle was one of the reasons why Jackson was looking to hire him, and even though Kerr won't be running the Triangle full time, he did tell Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News that there would be some Triangle principles:
"It will be influenced by the Triangle but it will not look like the Bulls of the '90s, I can tell you that."
Kerr went on to highlight several of his other influences to give an idea about his own philosophies:
"But we have the opportunity to make some strides offensively and I think that will be reflected in my influences-which have been Popovich and Phil and Lenny Wilkens...
They've all been coaches who emphasized ball movement, spacing and flow and having a a system to rely on and that's what i'm looking to give."
With Kerr invoking Popovich's name, Kawakami suggests a "Spurs-style offense" with plenty of ball and player movement. There would be less emphasis on isolation sets, something Mark Jackson sometimes used too often.
Kerr also made it a point to highlight Curry's effectiveness in the pick-and-roll, so expect that to be a staple of the offense. Kerr has long been a fan of Curry, as he tried to consummate a draft-night trade in 2009 that would have brought the sharpshooter to Phoenix. Kerr said that he spoke with Curry on Wednesday night and that the star point guard is excited about the move.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob is also plenty excited about the new coach, and Lacob explained to Sam Amick of USA TODAY why he's not worried about Kerr's lack of head coaching experience. Lacob gushed over Kerr's diligent preparation, an area that was reportedly one of the shortcomings of the prior Warriors coach:
"Yes, it's true, (Kerr) has not coached before. But this is what management is all about. You have to be able to pick people, and he is incredibly prepared...Every detail you can imagine. He knew our roster in and out. He had assistant coaches he wanted to go after. It was like a tour de force. Look, at the end of the day I know he knows a lot about basketball. We're taking a little bit of a risk on his coaching ability, but we did that with Mark and it worked. So it's just about finding the right fit for the organization and a guy who has extremely high potential, is a hard worker and is very prepared. That's what we have got."
Like any rookie headmaster, Kerr will face some growing pains in Golden State. And because of the talent in place, there will be pressure to win now. But if Kerr's preparation is all it's cracked up to be, he remains flexible with his coaching and can get his new players to buy in, there's little reason not to expect plenty of success.