Jay Wright is the hottest coaching name in basketball right now after leading a small, not supremely talented Villanova team to the national championship.
Unsurprisingly with a slew of NBA head coaching vacancies this offseason, his name has surfaced in the NBA coaching rumor mill.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) April 7, 2016
The Suns fired former head coach Jeff Hornacek in January after two and a half seasons and have had former player Earl Watson as their interim head coach this season.
There is no questioning Jay Wright is a great coach, and looks like the kind of guy to lead men with his style and politician look. College coaches transitioning to the NBA though have been a crap shoot and more often than not have been abject failures for the coaches and the organizations.
Here is a list of college coaches who have made the jump in the past 20 years or so:
Rick Pitino (Celtics)
John Callipari (Nets)
Billy Donovan (Thunder)
Brad Stevens (Celtics)
Lon Kruger (Hawks)
Tim Floyd (Bulls)
Mike Montgomery (Warriors)
P.J. Carlesimo (Warriors)
Reggie Theus (Kings)
Leonard Hamilton (Wizards)
Out of those 10, only four ever made the postseason (Stevens, we’re counting Donovan, Carlesimo, Callipari) and only two of them seem like they could be a success at the NBA level, Brad Stevens, an absolute coaching prodigy, and possibly Billy Donovan with the Thunder.
That is roughly a 20% or less success rate for college coaches transitioning to the NBA game. The game and the jobs are vastly different, in college you run the program, are the face of the program and are the highest paid. You are recruiting and teaching life values and lessons in addition to coaching. In the Pros half of your roster makes more money than you and you are mostly managing egos.
The fit makes sense for the Suns logically as Wright has had a great deal of success at Villanova with his four guard system and outplaying bigger, more talented teams with small ball and smart guard play. If the Suns are serious about keeping Knight and Bledsoe to feature along with Booker, they will need a coach who can make these guards mesh effectively on the court and Wright may be the guy to do it.
I think entertaining any offer from the Suns would be a mistake for Jay Wright as the grass is often not greener on the NBA side for a college coach, it’s usually yellow and dying. I also feel as though the Suns should look elsewhere for an NBA coach and finally ditch the two point guard system once and for all.
It will interesting to monitor if this develops into any more than a rumor in the coming weeks.