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NBA fans constantly long for the past, wishing for more physical play, more reliance on an inside game, and more specialized positions instead of universal athleticism. One aspect of the game that has disappeared for good is the use of player-coaches. The “floor general” trait is often ascribed to point guards, but we increasingly see more players emerging with so-called coaching skills at the other positions.
While the concept is not unique to basketball—baseball, hockey, and football all have had player-coaches—we haven’t seen one in the NBA since Dave Cowens did it for the Celtics during the 1978-79 season.
The possibility of a player actually being hired as a coach is slim to none in today’s NBA because of the collective bargaining agreement and the grueling demands of the modern schedule, but true NBA fans are always up for a hypothetical. Which players in the NBA today could simultaneously coach their squad—negotiate personalities, manage minutes, and create a game plan—while also balling out every night? Here, we look at eight players who could balance the demands of being a player-coach, assessing their potential coaching styles and the pros and cons of how they would helm the ship of an NBA team.