Detroit Pistons: Ranking the 3 finalists for head coach

Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons are in the final stages of their search for a new head coach and have reportedly chosen three finalists.

Kevin Ollie, Charles Lee and Jarron Collins will all meet with Tom Gores this week for what could be the final interview before the Pistons make their choice.

All three have compelling cases, though none of them have been head coaches in the NBA, so if one of these three gets the job, they will be in uncharted territory.

There is some amount of risk in choosing an unproven coach to lead the team, but keep in mind that every coaching legend once had a first job. The Spurs once rolled the dice on an unproven assistant named Gregg Popovich, so you never know who will be the next coaching great who is just getting started.

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Guessing which one will be the better coach is a crapshoot at best, as all three of the finalists have short (or no) NBA coaching resumes to look back on, and there are plenty of important intangibles in coaching that don’t show up on a piece of paper.

But based on my totally ignorant opinion, here’s how I would rank the three finalists, though I would get behind any choice.

Detroit Pistons: Ranking the 3 finalists for head coach

#3: Charles Lee

At 38-years-old, Lee is the youngest of the three candidates, which is not a bad thing, as getting a guy who can relate to and grow with the players does have appeal. Lee was an assistant at Bucknell, so has some experience with young players, and has been an assistant under Mike Budenholzer (who many think should be a candidate for the job) since 2014 with both the Hawks and Bucks.

I like that Lee has been around an innovative basketball mind in Budenholzer and has some experience with a good defense. I’d put him higher except he might also be eyeing the Bucks’ job after Budenholzer was fired and could see the Detroit Pistons as a second choice.

#2: Kevin Ollie

Some fans would rank him last, as Ollie has no coaching experience at all in the NBA. He hasn’t really coached anywhere since leaving UCONN in 2018 due to a minor scandal. He did win a title at UCONN, but has since been working in Overtime Elite in player development. He has plenty of experience with young players and personally knows some of the draft prospects who could end up on the Pistons, so he’d have some insight there. Ollie is well-respected around the league and former teammates have talked highly of him as a coaching prospect, including Kevin Durant, who claimed Ollie was a big part of the culture change in OKC.

Ollie hasn’t coached in awhile, and never in the NBA, so he might be the riskiest choice, but he has a lot of the intangibles and did build some very good defenses with UCONN. He’s been heavily involved in player development for most of his post-playing career.

#1: Jarron Collins

Jarron Collins may have the best combination of intangibles to go with the X’s and O’s. He’s been a part of multiple titles in Golden State as an assistant and was widely credited with helping to build their elite defense.

He’s been around some of the best coaches in the game in Golden State and New Orleans and has helped improve defenses everywhere he’s been. The Detroit Pistons were abysmal defensively and need someone who can turn that around.

I also like that he’s a former big man in the NBA himself who can hopefully get the most defensively out of the Pistons’ young centers, which will be crucial in this team’s growth. He’s gotten rave reviews from guys like Steve Kerr and has been well liked by players everywhere he’s been, including Draymond Green, who called his defensive schemes “f****** phenomenal.”

Sign me up for that.

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