NBA

Luke Walton Is a Much Better Coach Than You Think

Mar 5, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton reacts to a call during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Golden 1 Center.
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Despite not making the playoffs and having a losing record in his first season with the Sacramento Kings, Luke Walton might already be one of the best coaches in franchise history.

Here are the top 10 coaches in Kings history based on winning percentage since the team moved to Sacramento in 1985:

  1. .633 Rick Adelman (395-229)
  2. .431 Luke Walton (31-41)
  3. .415 Reggie Theus (44-62)
  4. .403 Garry St. Jean (159-236)
  5. .402 Eric Musselman (33-49)
  6. .398 Phil Johnson (51-77)
  7. .398 Dave Joerger (98-148)
  8. .393 George Karl (44-68)
  9. .368 Rex Hughes (22-35)
  10. .368 Mike Malone (39-67)

According to winning percentage, Walton is the second-best coach in Kings history, even though he is below .500. This probably says more about the team than the coach.

The Kings’ total record since 1985 is 1,187-1,625. During that span, they have only made the playoffs 10 times, without even a Finals appearance. As of now, they have missed the playoffs 14 straight years in a row. In contrast, the San Antonio Spurs just had their playoff streak snapped at 22 consecutive years.

Hopefully for Kings fans, the organization can improve on this season and make the playoffs in the near future. With Vlade Divac out as the team’s general manager, maybe they can find another guy to bring in more talent. If Sacramento plays it right, they will find success. With already a young core of De’aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley, among others, this does seem feasible.

Luke Walton also brings a lot of value. In the 2015-16 season, he coached the Warriors to a 39-4 record to start the season when Steve Kerr was out. Although the team had many good players, that type of record is still an amazing achievement.

Recognizing this, Kobe Bryant gave the coach some praise in 2016:

“I used to tease him when he was playing here about he’s destined to be a much better coach than a player. I used to rib him all the time. He didn’t want to hear it because he didn’t have the coaching bug yet, but I could see it in him. It was there. It was just a matter of time. He’s extremely smart. He always saw the game in combinations and sequences. … I kind of just chuckle a little bit at it, because I see he’s thinking in threes. Most coaches think in combinations of twos, but he’s thinking in threes. This pass leads to that pass is going to lead to that one. And I remember sitting in the locker room and going over this stuff with him.”

Perhaps in a couple years, Luke Walton will be above .500 with the Kings, making him a bonafide second best coach in franchise history.

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