It’s not uncommon for teams to start the season out strong and fail to make the playoffs. We see this happen all the time in the National Basketball Association. While it’s the players who are usually the ones coming up short on the court, it’s often another who ends up taking the fall.
Welcome to the life of an NBA head coach. It’s a lonely existence; one where an individual is praised when their team rides high and takes all the heat when their squad fails to live up to expectations. Of course, it’s not as if this situation isn’t common knowledge.
Everyone knows that in the world of professional sports, if a team’s not producing, the role of the scapegoat tends to fall on the head coach. So far, in the early going of the 2016–17 NBA season, no one has yet to suffer this terrible fate. But, let’s be real, it’s only a matter of time before that changes; it’s part of the business. Unfortunately, someone has to be first. The way Vegas sees it, these individuals are the most likely culprits.
6. Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
Despite these latest odds, we have a feeling Dwane Casey’s job in Toronto is secure. Since Casey’s hiring back in 2011, the Raptors have gone 214-186 (.535 winning percentage), finished atop the Atlantic Division standings three consecutive years, and found themselves playing in the conference finals last season. Toronto is already off to a competitive start in 2016–17. They land among the teams challenging the Cavs for Eastern Conference supremacy. Barring some sort of catastrophic collapse, Casey will serve as head coach to lead the charge.
5. Jason Kidd, Milwaukee Bucks
Jason Kidd has produced mixed results in his brief tenure with the Milwaukee Bucks. After leading the team to a 41-41 record and playoff berth in 2014–15 (his first season at the helm), he struggled to find the same magic in Year 2. The Bucks finished in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with an uninspiring 33-49 mark. This year, however, Milwaukee has a youthful and talented roster. The organization would love to see it blossom and take the next step Kidd’s third season on the job. As a result, he’ll probably get a fair amount of leeway from the front office. Of course, we’ve been wrong before.
4. Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz showed steady improvement in each of Quin Snyder’s first two seasons at the helm, going from a 38-win squad in 2014–15 to a group that notched 40 Ws the following year. Now in his third season on the job, Snyder is expected to help this team take the next step in its evolution — or at the very least, lead it to the playoffs. If he is unable to accomplish this feat, the organization, which has been fairly patient throughout his tenure, may look to hire someone who can.
3. Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that Brett Brown has the hardest coaching job in the NBA. For his first three seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, the former Spurs assistant endured a process that prioritized losing games (or tanking) and acquiring assets rather than putting a competitive team out on the floor. As you can imagine, this way of doing things yields embarrassing results.
However, now in his fourth season on the job, Brown sees the light at the end of the tunnel. His name: Joel Embiid. The Sixers might not win many games, but they are starting to look like a real team (albeit, one that still remains log-jammed at the center position). Hopefully the organization plans to give Brown the opportunity to “win” with this group. It’s the least it can do.
2. Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry because they thought he’d be able to maximize the skills of superstar Anthony Davis. Instead, Davis reminds us that he cannot carry the team by himself, even though he is easily one of the best young players in the game. Under Gentry’s brief tenure, the Pelicans are 30-58, winless through their first six games of the 2016–17 season, and show no signs of challenging in the Western Conference. The way we see it, it’s only a matter of time before change comes to New Orleans.
1. Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls
Coming into the 2016–17 season, we didn’t expect much from the Chicago Bulls. However, we must admit, so far this group is pleasantly surprising us. Sure, the Bulls came back down to Earth recently, but Fred Hoiberg has adjusted well in his second season on the job. Vegas may view him as the first NBA head coach destined for the unemployment line, but we think his job is plenty safe. Chicago is a team on the rise, and the same can be said for its head coach.