I just want to start off by saying that I don't think Luke Walton is a bad coach, I just don't think he's the best person the Kings could have picked. In my opinion, the person best suited for this job is the reigning champion Toronto Raptors’ assistant coach, Adrian Griffin.
This may surprise some, as Griffin isn’t really a household name and this would be his first official NBA coaching job, but he’s got more than enough on his resume to make up for that. He’s a defensive-minded coach who knows the Raptors switches/system, a former player AND has also helped coach the US Olympic team.
Still not enough? Well let’s take a deep dive on his past assistant jobs in the NBA to get a feel for the talent that he’s worked with:2008 - 2010: Assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks
This was Griffin’s first coaching job, but his results still showed. You have to keep in mind this was a pre-Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks team, led by an older Michael Redd
. In his first season with the team, they improved from 26 wins to 34 wins. Nothing to write home about but still a decent improvement from the year prior. The next year, he and head coach John Skiles lead the team to the playoffs with a record of 46-36! In two years in his tenure, the team improved by 20 wins.
This was his final year with the team, and after his departure, the Bucks slid back to 35 wins.2010 - 2015: Assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls
This is where, in my opinion, Griffin becomes really interesting in relation to the Kings. In these years, he got to coach and experience a young, prime, MVP Derrick Rose at the full peak of his athletic ability. These teams were fast due to Derrick Rose, mean defensively due to big man Joakim Noah, (which could help Marvin Bagley)
and a constant playoff threat. Once again just like his prior job, after his departure and the regression/injuries on certain key players, the Bulls saw themselves fall from 50 wins to 37 and out of the playoffs.2015 - 2016: Assistant coach for the Orlando Magic
Going 35-47, this remains to be his worst year behind the bench. However, I’ll give him a pass seeing as it was a single year and the Magic didn’t have much of a team as they were rebuilding around a young Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo.2016 - 2018: Assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder
For the second time in his career, Griffin got to coach one of the most electrifying, athletic point guards in the NBA now in Russell Westbrook. Just like Derrick Rose and the Bulls, Westbrook won the league MVP in his tenure.
The Thunder were contenders every year that he was there and again, saw their win total diminish in his absence, despite not much difference in the roster this time.2018 - Present: Assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors
When Dwayne Casey was fired from Toronto and Nick Nurse needed to build a coaching staff, guess who got the call? That’s right, not only did he win the championship in the first year as an assistant coach; We also saw/are seeing huge strides from Toronto’s young point guard in Fred VanVleet as well as a developed shooting stroke on big man Pascal Siakam,
(again, something that could be used to help mentor Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles.)To recap, he kept the mediocre Bucks afloat, improving their win total by 20 on an ageing team. The Bulls were contenders in his tenure, so were the Thunder, and he straight up won with the Raptors in a year. The man has a track record of carrying a winning culture pretty much wherever he goes. He has a history of success with young, athletic point guards with a shaky shot similar to De’Aaron Fox (MVP Westbrook/Rose) or his development of big guys like Siakam and Noah is very encouraging to me when it comes to the Kings’ young frontcourt.
There were rumours that surfaced that indicated that the Grizzlies may be looking to make a move for him last season but I doubt they would still be interested as they already replaced their former coach, JB Bickerstaff with Taylor Jenkins the last offseason and are seeing success under him this year. If the Kings DO move on from Walton this offseason, they should do everything they can to get their hands on this guy before it’s too late.
Jerami Grant talking about AG aiding his development:https://oklahoman.com/article/5570846/okc-thunder-journal-jerami-grant-honing-control-on-drives-to-basket