After laying the foundation during his two-season tenure from 2012-14, Golden State Warriors’ previous head coach Mark Jackson was one season away from being in his shoes. Jackson led the Warriors to their first back-to-back playoff appearance after being absent since 2007 – a big jump from four consecutive seasons below .500.
Once Golden State parted ways with Jackson in 2014, a winning franchise with rising stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson was up for grabs. The Warriors road to success was almost inevitable, all they needed was a suit to run it.
With his 63rd win Saturday evening over the Dallas Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors’ new head coach Steve Kerr is now acknowledged as the most winningest rookie coach in NBA history.
Kerr beat out Tom Thibodeau (2010-11 Chicago Bulls) and Paul Westphal (1992-93 Phoenix Suns) who were tied in first place at 62 wins a piece. Kerr joins them as the only coaches to surpass 60 wins in their first season.
Coming off winning the NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month for January and March, Kerr became the first Warriors head coach to win the award twice in the same season. Kerr and former coach Don Nelson, who won the award in 1989 and 2007, are the only Warrior coaches to accomplish this feat multiple times.
Kerr’s accomplishments is a reflection of the Golden State Warriors’ successful regular season in which individual and team records are set almost monthly. The No. 1 seeded team set new franchise records in March with 61 home wins and 27 road wins, with the Splash Brothers, Thompson and Curry, continuing to shatter scoring rap-sheets.
Leading the NBA in three-point percentage, points per game, point differential and assists, the Warriors have become a threat for any potential playoff team despite their inexperience and the presence of a big- time veteran.
This year’s post-season appearance will make three consecutive bids into the playoffs for the Warriors, the first time since the 1974-77 era. Nelson was only able to lead the Warriors to back–to–back trips in his six year coaching tenure (1988-94) despite having players like Tim Hardaway and rookie Chris Webber.
Kerr’s coaching season is just another notch to add to his belt. Though he has worn many hats since the day he stepped on a hardwood floor, this endeavor could arguably be regarded as Kerr’s most successful even with his contribution to the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls and being one of the most accurate three-point shooters in NCAA history.