How Important Is Steve Kerr?

If Golden State wins a championship with Kerr not coaching, does it hurt his legacy as a coach or help it?



(Ezra Shaw/Gettyimages)


This time 2 years ago Steve Kerr was looking like one of the best new coaches the NBA has seen in quite some time. But with Golden State opening last season 24-0 without him and now only coaching 2 of the 12 wins so far in the playoffs, the question is beginning to pop up more and more, "Is Kerr even that important to the Warriors success?"

The answer for at least short periods of time has been a resounding no. Watching that 24-0 start without him last year and the playoff run so far this year, you would've never guessed that team was without its head coach. The reason is Steve Kerr just isn't that important game to game for the Warriors. Don't get me wrong though, this is by no way me saying Kerr isn't a talented coach and hasn't been an integral part in turning the Warriors into the dynasty that they're turning into.

In the NBA you have player friendly coaches, X's and O's geniuses and then system coaches. Doc Rivers is the definition of a player friendly coach, no one can really put a finger on what Doc's system is because he doesn't really have one and he has never been a guy known for his X's and O's. While a coach like Brad Stevens has already made a name for himself with his in-game adjustments and unbelievable X's and O's IQ. The absence of Brad Stevens would definitely affect his team more than the effect we have seen with Kerr's absence on the Warriors. 

To see Kerr's effect on the Warriors all you have to do is see the differences between the 2014 Mark Jackson's Warriors and the 2015 Steve Kerr's Warriors. The Warriors offense jumped from the middle of the pack in scoring (12th OffRtg) and 7th in assists to having the number 1 scoring offense and averaging the most assists per game. There were no major player additions over that summer, Shaun Livingston was the only new player to really be in the rotation that wasn't there the year before. So what changed from having an average offense and solid ball movement to having one of the most unstoppable offenses we have ever seen and some of the best ball movement the game has ever seen.



(Rocky Widner/GettyImages)


The difference as you have all guessed was Steve Kerr. He implemented a more ball movement oriented offense and saw the potential of the small ball lineup with Draymond Green at the 5, which is now well known as the "Death Lineup". Kerr saw how the roster wasn't being used to its full potential and once he took over, we saw a new era of basketball grow before our eyes.

Kerr has just implemented the perfect culture and system for his team where it doesn't need him to overlook every aspect of it all the time. The fact that we are seeing all the success the Warriors have had and currently having without Kerr pacing on the sidelines shouldn't be evidence that the Warriors don't need him and he is just a product of being in the right place at the right time. It should be the complete opposite, it should be evidence that while yes he is surrounded by great players and arguably the best front office of the past 5-6 years, Kerr implemented a culture and system so strong the players and the rest of the coaching staff know it like it's the back of their hand.


May 31, 2017

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David Graves