Atkinson is likely the least well known name on this list, and for good reason. He played the entirety of his career overseas as a player and has yet to be a head coach in the NBA.
Atkinson sat next to the 2014-2015 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer this season for the Atlanta Hawks. Dating back to 2008, he also spent some time with the New York Knicks in similar roles. He also served as the Director of Player Development for the Rockets in 2007.
Obviously, the experience factor is the big knock on Atkinson. However, he has a lot of tools to bring to the table as the lead man on a team.
Mike D’Antoni, who had Atkinson on his staff in New York, had this to say when his assistant left for Atlanta in 2012: “He does a great job with the players and in development. He’s has great knowledge of the game and would be good on any staff.”
Atkinson has learned from some of the best in the business.
Right now he is a risky candidate for a team that wants to win soon, but he could be just the right guy if the Pelicans took that chance.
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