The NBA coaching carousel has begun it’s slow revolutions with Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New Jersey and the Los Angeles Clippers are all looking for replacements. The usual suspects have been rounded up for interviews. There is one name out there I haven’t heard mentioned; a name that I think certainly deserves some consideration: Quin Snyder Snyder has no experience as an NBA head coach, and that is part of the reason he is, and will remain an under the radar candidate. He did spend 1 year as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, and 4 years as an assistant with Duke. He then spent 7 season as the Head Basketball Coach at the University of Missouri. During his time there he amassed a .581 winning percentage, a .528 winning percentage in the Big 12, and led his team to the NCAA Tournament 4 straight seasons. He did resign from the job at Missouri after two difficult seasons, a recruiting scandal, and a strained relationship with his athletic director.
For the past three seasons, Snyder has been the Head Coach of the Austin Toros, the San Antonio Spurs’ D-League affiliate. During his tenure there he has amassed a 94-56 record for a .627 winning percentage. Many will scoff at this accomplishment, but each year the talent gap between the NBA and D-League has gotten smaller. Over the past three seasons Alonzo Gee, Curtis Jerells, Dwayne Jones, DeMarcus Nelson, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Malik Hairston, DeMarr Johnson, Marcus Williams, Andre Barett and Keith Langford have all received call-ups from Austin to the NBA. The Toros are regarded as one of the model D-League programs for developing players and getting them to play within their system.
Being a Head Coach in the D-League seems like an especially challenging proposition. You have a roster full of players, most of whom were the stars of their college teams. They have recently had their egos bruised, finding out the NBA doesn’t think as much of them as they think of themselves. You have to discourage these players for going out and shooting every time they touch the ball, getting them to focus on details and development, as well as learning NBA style systems. You have to get them to buy into the fact that their best chance to make it to the NBA is to find the niche skill they can excel at, and carve out a career as a role player at the next level. This is a difficult task but Snyder has been among the best over the past few years.
What he lacks in top-level head coaching experience, Snyder makes up for in intensity. He seems to connect with his players, and is able to get them to buy in and to play hard and smart every night. He may not be the best candidate out there, but certainly some team with a young roster, and an eye towards player development should be giving him a call for an interview. Of course if it doesn’t happen this season, I will be happy cut and past this post next summer when the Pacers began their search for a new Head Coach.