The Wizards officially have the man to lead the ship and it's Scott Brooks. Brooks took the 2015-16 season off, but prior to that led the Thunder for seven seasons where he won 338 games with a winning percentage of 62%. That .620 winning percentage is the best all time amongst coaches who have never won a title (minimum 500 games coached). OKC made the playoffs five consecutive times from 2009-2014 under Brooks, advancing as far as the NBA Finals. They also finished first in the Northwest Division four straight times, from 2011-2014. In 2010 he was named NBA Coach of the Year, beating out Scott Skiles in Milwaukee, Nate McMillan in Portland and the legendary Jerry Sloan in Utah. The final voting wasn't close, as Brooks received 71 of 123 first place votes, and appeared on 118 of the ballots.
Brooks grew up in California before he headed off to TCU to begin his college career. He spent a year there, a year at San Joaquin Delta College and finally his final two collegiate seasons at UC Irvine. It was there that he became a star, averaging 23.8 points on 43.2% shooting from long distance his senior year. He was inducted into UCI's Hall of Fame in 2001.
After college, Brooks went undrafted and spent the first two seasons of his pro career in the CBA and WBL. Finally, in 1988, the 76ers picked him up, and Brooks would spend the next 10 years in the NBA with six different teams. For his career, he averaged 4.9 points and 2.4 assists per game. The highlight of his career came in 1994, when he was a part of the Rockets' championship squad.
After retiring as a player, Brooks made the switch to the sidelines. He spent two seasons in the ABA before joining Jeff Bzdelik's staff in Denver. When the Nuggets made the move to George Karl in 2004, Karl retained Brooks for the next two seasons. Denver went to the playoffs each of the three seasons that Brooks was there as an assistant. Brooks' next move was to Sacramento, where he joined Eric Musselman's staff for the 2006-07 season with the Kings. When Musselman was not retained, Brooks moved on to Seattle, for the final year of the franchise's stay in the Queen City. Brooks coached under P.J. Carlesimo for a year and change, and when Carlesimo was fired during the team's first season in Oklahoma City, Brooks was promoted to interim head coach. He held that tag until the end of the season, when the 'interim' was dropped from his title.
That first season as interim head coach Brooks missed the playoffs before leading them to the playoffs five straight years, winning at least 50 games during four of those seasons. Armed with the likes of Durant, Westbrook, Harden (through 2011-12), and Ibaka, Brooks took the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2010-11, the NBA Finals in 2011-12, and then back to the Western Conference Finals in 2013-14. In 2012, the Thunder knocked off the top seeded Spurs, before falling to LeBron's Heat in the Finals, the first of their back-to-back championships.
Brooks is known as a defense first coach, something that is needed in Washington after the team finished with a defensive rating of 106.48, 14th in the league. This was a big step back from the previous season when the team was fifth in the NBA. Brooks' Thunder teams were top 10 in terms of defensive rating in four of the five seasons he led them to the playoffs. The team was also impressive offensively, but that's to be expected with Durant and Westbrook.
There's also little questioning Brooks' ability to develop players. Westbrook, Durant, and Harden all become superstars under Brooks, while players like Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, and Steven Adams have all have turned into solid starters in the league. His players have always had positive things to say about him, such as this Westbrook quote right before he was let go by OKC in 2015. "I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does behind the scenes. Obviously, a lot of people that’s not in (the practice facility) want him to do other things, want to see other things from him. But as a coach and as a friend, I think he does an amazing job of communicating what he wants out of the players."
Durant had this to say about him in 2014 when people were being critical of him. "“How can you knock a guy who I think should be coach of the year this year with us losing Russ (Westbrook) for so long and us staying on top of the best conference in the league, winning games against big teams on the road and he’s putting us in position every single game to be successful; who’s won 50 games, 55 games, 60 games, 47 games in the lockout [season], and we’re on pace for 60 now? I mean, what can you say?”
Brooks is a very experienced coach who has led talented teams to the cusp of the promised land. He'll inherit a talented and hungry Washington team with a chip on their shoulder due to a disappointing 2015-16 campaign. The Brooks and Wizards marriage should therefore make for an excellent match.
Welcome to Washington, Coach Brooks!