Nets Preview: Eagle on Top Coaches

10/29/2012 10:00 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Rick Carlisle led the Mavericks to the 2010-11 NBA Championship.(AP)
In discussing Avery Johnson earlier in our season preview series, Mike Fratello alluded to the belief that while a good coach can make an average team better, having great talent to work with can make said good coach great.

“When he was in Dallas, Avery certainly showed that when given enough talent, he can take a team to the Finals,” Fratello said. “This has been a different process for him, and now, he’ll coach the best roster he’s had since he’s come to the Nets. Obviously that’s huge for him, because you can do a lot more when you have good pieces to work with – and when he had good pieces in Dallas, they went to the NBA Finals.”

Ian Eagle agreed with that statement, and when we asked the Nets’ play-by-play man for his thoughts on the best “X’s and O’s” coaches in the league right now (aside from Johnson), we found that his choices all had two things in common: they’re all basketball “lifers” who have worked with and/or are currently working with some of the NBA’s most elite players.

No. 1: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago:
“Tom put in more than a decade as an assistant coach so he learned a lot from a lot of great tutors, and he’s a defensive-minded coach who also knows how to create offense.”

No. 2: Rick Carlisle, Dallas:
“Carlisle learned under Chuck Daly, and he’s a highly-intelligent guy who has won at multiple spots – Detroit, Indiana, Dallas. He knows how to get the job done with whatever he has.”

No. 3: Doug Collins, Philadelphia:
“Doug has a great basketball mind, and he has a unique perspective based on his television work. He came back to Philadelphia with a fresh insight, and has improved in areas that he himself would admit he needed work on, like dealing with players and managing his emotions. Having been a player, a coach, a TV analyst, and now a coach again, he’s seen the game from every possible angle.”

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