The fantasy basketball playoffs are fast approaching! It’s been a wild NBA season thus far and the chaos doesn’t figure to be slowing down anytime soon. The trade deadline, injuries to star players, and emerging young talent have proven capable of changing the fantasy outlooks of multiple players on any given night. One other aspect of the game that might often be overlooked in terms of its impact on fantasy basketball is coaching.
How NBA Coaches Impact Fantasy Basketball
Unlike Steve Kerr’s role as head coach when the Golden State Warriors were unbeatable, the rest of the NBA coaches (and now, Kerr himself) are charged with finding the right combinations and minute amounts for their players on any given night. Of course for fantasy, volume is everything. Just like touches in fantasy football, a player has to be on the court for enough minutes in any given game to produce.
While the concept of awarding the best players with minutes seems simple enough, it sure hasn’t appeared that way for a number of NBA coaches this season. Much to the chagrin of fantasy basketball owners, the shenanigans and nonsensical moves that some coaches make with their lineups and rotations range from hilarious to downright infuriating.
Like anything else, some coaches are worse than others. By my assessment, here are the three who have proven most frustrating for fantasy basketball purposes this season. The advice portion of this column is broad in scope. Simply be wary of players on these coaches’ teams as the playoffs approach. You never know what could happen!
3 Worst Coaches for Fantasy Basketball
Tom Thibodeau | New York Knicks
Big surprise here right? We kick off this list of infamy with New York Knicks head man Tom Thibodeau. Thibs is plenty accomplished as a basketball coach. His tough demeanor and intensity ensure that he gets the most out of the talent he has. Whether that’s an MVP-caliber performance from Derrick Rose or a rather shocking playoff berth from this year’s Knicks, Thibodeau has proven he knows how to motivate his players.
For as strong a coach as Thibodeau is, he is the epitome of frustration for fantasy basketball managers. None of the mind-boggling rotation decisions stand out to me more than the point guard position. Despite Immanuel Quickley showing flashes of great potential all season, he can’t seem to buy playing time to save his life. In fact, Thibodeau went so far as to go out and trade for his old mate Rose to eat into Quickley’s minutes. That was while original starter Elfrid Payton was on the shelf with an injury. A simple eye test would show anyone that Payton’s play is vastly inferior to Quickley’s. Yet, the now healthy Payton has usurped Quickley in the rotation. Payton is averaging nearly seven more minutes per game but just 0.2 more points. Make it make sense Thibs! Oh wait, it doesn’t.
I won’t even get into the interesting usage of Julius Randle this season here. But let’s just say that’s been nonsensical as well. At least Thibodeau has kept rookie Obi Toppin out of the main rotation. The former Dayton Flyer has a lot of work to do to become an effective NBA player.
Scott Brooks | Washington Wizards
At least Thibodeau has the coaching pedigree to retaliate at fantasy basketball chumps who call out his awful rotation decisions. The same cannot be said for Washington Wizards head man Scott Brooks. Perhaps it’s fitting that the head coach for one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchises is incompetent with his rotations. Look at it that way and it all makes perfect sense!
While the mismanagement of Bradley Beal has certainly been something to watch, Brooks’ biggest middle finger to fantasy basketball managers this season has been his center rotation. That is if you can even call it a rotation. The fact of the matter is no one knows just which Wizards center will get to play on any given night. After Thomas Bryant went down for the season with an ACL tear, Brooks has failed to establish any sort of consistency at the position.
The triangle that was formerly Alex Len, Robin Lopez and Mo Wagner became the former two, plus Daniel Gafford after the NBA trade deadline. Both Len and Wagner especially have seemingly had spurts where they’ve appeared to make a case for the lead center role. Brooks has ripped it away from both almost right away. I can’t be the only one who has added them thinking it’d work out only to be let down in the very next game. Scott Brooks’ center management is headache-inducing, plain and simple.
Dwane Casey | Detroit Pistons
Like the Wizards, Dwane Casey’s Detroit Pistons are playing for draft positioning. We knew this team was bad coming into the year. In fact, can anyone remember when the Pistons were actually better than mediocre? On top of all that, perhaps it’s more clear now than ever to fantasy basketball managers why the Toronto Raptors decided to move on from Dwane Casey as their coach and won a championship soon after.
To be fair to Casey, he hasn’t exactly been given a lot of talent to work with this year. That being said, he has made it extremely difficult to pinpoint what few fantasy basketball assets there are on the current Pistons roster. Everyone from trade acquisition Dennis Smith Jr. to Saban Lee has gotten big minutes at point guard. 33-year-old Wayne Ellington has averaged nearly as many minutes as former fourth overall draft pick Josh Jackson. And where has Hamidou Diallo gone since coming over from the Oklahoma City Thunder? Complete off the fantasy radar, that’s where!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of acquiring young players to get them playing time and see whether they might fit into future plans as the team rebuilds? The Pistons have a trio of former top-10 picks on their roster in Hayes, Jackson and Smith. Diallo was a 5-star recruit in his own right coming out of high school. Casey admittedly hasn’t been as bad from game to game as, say, Scott Brooks with his big men. Still though, trying to make sense of the allotted playing time for Pistons players over the course of the season is borderline impossible.