USA Basketball set to name Steve Kerr next coach: How Warriors’ coach compares to Gregg Popovich, Coach K

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Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr is set to become the next head coach of the United States Senior Men’s National Basketball Team.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kerr is set to replace Gregg Popovich as Team USA’s head coach, beginning at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup and continuing through the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Kerr will replace Gregg Popovich as Team USA’s next coach in the World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics. He was an assistant on Popovich’s gold-medal Olympic staff in Tokyo. https://t.co/Dxo8fXMsUT

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 10, 2021

As Wojnarowski reported, Kerr’s staff will be made up of Suns head coach Monty Williams, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and Mark Few, head coach of Gonzaga University.

Kerr’s extensive history with Team USA dates back to 1986, when he played for the team at the FIBA World Championship. He joined as an assistant coach in 2018, serving in that capacity at the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

What will Kerr bring as Team USA’s head coach? His coaching history suggests there will be a similar, but different approach from his predecessors.

How Steve Kerr compares to Coach K, Gregg Popovich as Team USA coach

Kerr’s time as an assistant coach with USA Basketball began alongside Popovich, who succeeded Mike Krzyzewski following the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The 2019 World Cup was a forgettable showing for Team USA as it earned a seventh place finish after losing twice in the final round of competition. The road to redemption lasted twice as long as intended as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 2020 Olympics into 2021, where Popovich was able to lead the team to gold.

Kerr, who spent four seasons playing for the Spurs, is one of Popovich’s long list of coaching proteges but their strategies can be quite different.

MORE: Ben Simmons ‘would welcome opportunity’ to play for Popovich, Spurs

Since Kerr took over the helm in Golden State in 2014, his Warriors have been at the forefront of the 3-point revolution that has changed the entire landscape of the NBA. Over that same time span, Popovich’s Spurs have remained at the bottom of the league in volume of 3s attempted and made.

That said, the NBA game and FIBA game are vastly different and Popovich’s Team USA attempted over 34 triples per contest on the way to gold in Tokyo, a notable uptick from the 29.8 attempts per game during the team’s disappointing World Cup in 2019. In Coach K’s last tournament? Team USA attempted 28.1 triples per contest.

It’s worth noting that the time gaps in between tournament makes way for drastic changes in the game, which can make for jarring statistical differences. There is also something to be said about personnel, as a team that is notably built around 3-point shooting will always result in having higher 3-point shooting numbers.

The Warriors’ reliance on the 3-ball is just as much about having two of the greatest shooters of all-time in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as it is about Kerr at the helm.

Which leads to the importance of personnel.

Will Stephen Curry play for USA Basketball?

Kerr’s appointment means the spotlight will surely shift to Warriors’ superstar and 3-point king Stephen Curry.

As illustrious of a resume as Curry has, he has yet to win Olympic gold. At 36, would Curry go for one ride as an Olympian if his head coach was at the helm? A players’ coach, Kerr will likely have a wide array of players to choose from for the upcoming tournaments he is expected to lead. 

MORE: When will Curry become all-time 3-point leader?

And there are likely more stars to come up the pipeline over the next three seasons as well.

As much as there is to say about Kerr’s reliance on the 3, the defenses of his teams should not be mentioned as an afterthought. During each of the Warriors’ title runs, they have boasted dominant defenses, yet another product of their personnel.

In a FIBA game that is a different type of physical, Kerr and his new staff will be tasked with scheming to keep the USA atop the basketball world. Given the precedent set in years past and the quality of assistants he’ll will have by his side, Kerr can continue the longstanding dominance.

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