Mark Jackson is one of the most successful coaches in Golden State Warriors history. In just three seasons, Jackson led the Warriors to 50+ wins for the first time since 1993-94 and to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992.
Most coaches who take franchises to places they haven’t been in two decades get extensions. Jackson got fired.
Enter Steve Kerr, who guided the Warriors to an NBA-best 67 wins this season and the franchise’s first Finals berth since 1976. Kerr has been phenomenal, but it’s only fair to wonder: How much of a role did Jackson play in Golden State’s success this year? How much credit does he deserve?
“I mean, he deserves credit for what they accomplished the last couple years – certainly last year for creating a culture in that locker room that was extremely tight,” USA Today NBA writer Sam Amick said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They had a few outliers. It’s well-chronicled at this point (that) Mark Jackson and Andrew Bogut did not see eye-to-eye, but he had most of the guys in that locker room, Steph Curry being chief among them – and that was huge.”
But last year was last year. Jackson turned the franchise around, but Kerr got it where it wanted to go – where ownership needed it to go.
“I think in the here and the now, this is Kerr’s show,” Amick said. “And I’ve been saying all year: He’s not a coach that just kind of rode on the back of this wagon and is enjoying the joy ride. This guy made some bold decisions early on that got this team to this point. And for Steph, for me, it’s even less about the offense as it is about the defense.”
Curry averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds in a career-low 32.7 minutes per game this season (he sat out many fourth quarters because his team was usually so far ahead), but he also spearheaded the league’s top defense.
“(Kerr) moved him off the opposing shooting guard,” Amick explained. “Mark Jackson – and I understood the thinking at the time – but he would hide Steph Curry defensively. Steve Kerr challenged him. He said we cannot be a great team unless our best player plays both ends of the floor.”
So, Curry began guarding opposing point guards.
“(Kerr) did quite a few things like that that got this team to the next level,” Amick said. “It’s a fascinating story because you find yourself crediting guys from the past like Mark Jackson. But again, I think in the here and the now, guys like Steve and the rest of that group deserve a ton of credit.”