Wes Unseld Jr. probably shouldn’t be the coach for the Washington Wizards going forward. With a record of 76 wins and 120 losses as a head coach, he doesn’t seem like a good fit. He doesn’t seem to make adjustments and relies heavily on the stars to play isolation basketball which isn’t a winning formula. But if the Wizards decide to replace WUJ, who should they go after?
Former Washington Wizard and current Men’s Basketball head coach at the University of Michigan, Juwan Howard would be an excellent choice. Howard would be the ideal candidate for a team looking to shift their culture to a winning one for multiple reasons.
Howard is a former player with the Wizards but started his career with the University of Michigan where he was a star with the Fab Five. Coming into college in 1991, Howard was part of the first all-freshman starting lineup in NCAA history to compete in a championship game in 1992. They also reached the ‘93 championship game but lost both times. The Fab Five were trendsetters with their baggy shorts and black socks, which was uncommon back then. In today’s game, some college teams would have a freshman-majority starting lineup now because of the Michigan Five.
Howard then proceeded to enter the 1994 NBA draft where he was the fifth overall pick for Washington. Teaming up with his former college frontcourt teammate, Chris Webber, they both became stars, Howard becoming an All-Star in his second season. Howard had his best seasons with the Bullets/Wizards before going to Dallas. So having a former player as a coach would be ideal in today’s league, being able to communicate with your players and being relatable as someone who has been through the rigors of an NBA career.
Howard played his final two seasons with the Miami Heat where he won two championships, then became an assistant coach with the Heat right after he retired. As an assistant coach, he helped the team get back to the Finals. He stayed with the franchise for six seasons where he learned a lot about winning culture, which he took back to his alma mater. He has had a lot of success as a coach with the University of Michigan. The school was a no. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA tournament making Howard the first person in NCAA history to enter the tournament as a first seed as both a player and a coach. The things that he learned as a coach under Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley will help him ease into an NBA coaching role.
With that amount of success, Howard should be an NBA coach. The pedigree he carries would automatically command the respect of the players. A coach who has played and coached at the highest level can understand the players. It is time for the Washington Wizards to shake things up and bring in their former star as their new leader.