The 2018-19 NBA season has started, Spoelstra apprentice David Fizdale has taken charge of the Knicks, Pop acolyte Mike Budenholzer is in Milwaukee, and journeryman assistant Igor Kokostov is leading the maybe-not-terrible Suns. In other words, it’s an ideal moment to gaze at coaching trees. As quickly becomes apparent from the data, however, full NBA coaching trees are better thought of as gnarled bushes, with head coaches and assistants bouncing around the league, forming multiple, inter-woven connections.
Tom Thibodeau loves his former players. Since taking over as coach of the TWolves, Thibs (who also serves of president of basketball operations) has acquired the services of no fewer than six players he coached on the Bulls: Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Aaron Brooks, John Lucas III, and most recently Luol Deng. Tom Thibodeau loves his former players. But how extraordinary is this love? Do other coaches surround themselves with their former guys when they move to new teams?