John Beilein Would Make A Great NBA Coach


Friday afternoon’s massive Woj Bomb tying Michigan head coach John Beilein to the vacant Detroit Pistons job piques my interest.

Readers of The Open Man already know we think highly of John Beilein around these parts. Chase Ruttig started the Final Four bandwagon long before anyone else, declaring the Wolverines front-runners after their Big Ten Tournament championship. Yours truly covered the West Regional in Los Angeles, and came away wildly impressed.

Michigan fell short of winning its first national championship since 1989, running into a Villanova team brimming with NBA talent. Jalen Brunson, Omari Spellman, Mikal Bridges and national title game star Donte DiVincenzo are all pro-bound, and Villanova coach Jay Wright is a frequent wish-list name bounced around the NBA coaching rumor mill.

Today’s Pistons revelation marks the first time I’ve read or heard Beilein discussed as a pro coach, but he makes sense for the same reasons as Jay Wright.

Beilein has a long and distinguished track record in the college ranks, which doesn’t always translate to NBA success — hello, John Calipari and Rick Pitino — but his teams at both West Virginia and Michigan played with a style conducive to today’s pro game.

Michigan moves the ball effectively and effortlessly. Seeing the Wolverines live against Texas A&M, I was blown away with the seamless transition offense they employed. Their half-court sets created defensive mismatches, and the team’s perfect spacing led to frequent clean looks at the basket.

Lest you think I’m basing my support Beilein on a one-game sample size, his Michigan teams often led the way in offensive efficiency around college basketball: No. 4 nationally in 2016-17. No. 30 in 2015-16. No. 3 in 2013-14.

Beilein’s last Final Four team prior to this season, in 2012-13, boasted the best offensive efficiency rating in the country. That was also the Michigan team to feature the most NBA-caliber talent since the Fab Five era. Meanwhile, this past season’s Michigan squad ranked in the Top 5 nationally for defensive efficiency, effectively using the length of Moritz Wagner and Jon Teske to clog the lane on one end of the court, but not stifling the free-flowing style on the other end.

That bodes well for a Detroit Pistons team with Andre Drummond in the middle, should Beilein leave for the NBA. Just don’t expect Michigan to let the coach walk without a fight.

Athletic director Warde Manuel lavished praise on the state of the basketball program during the net-cutting ceremony last March in Staples Center.

“He’s just a great coach. Great coach, great person, someone my own son is around as a manager on the team,” Manuel said. “I told John I couldn’t ask for a better person, better role model for [Manuel’s son] to be around.”

Whether in Ann Arbor or Detroit, any basketball team is fortunate to have John Beilein around.