5 reasons to love Dan Hurley potentially becoming the next Lakers head coach

The Los Angeles Lakers have shocked the basketball world by identifying Dan Hurley as the leading candidate to become head coach. It's a phenomenal decision.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament   - National Championship
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - National Championship / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers entered June with a narrative surrounding the organization that simply couldn't be escaped. All eyes were on JJ Redick as the frontrunner to become the new head coach, when suddenly, UConn Huskies leader Dan Hurley was identified as the reported favorite from the start.

It's a shocking turn of events that has many questioning how the information was so perfectly protected in the weeks leading up to this revelation.

As the Lakers do their best to make an offer to Hurley that he'd be willing to leave UConn for, the focus thus shifts to what could happen on the court. The 51-year-old is a proven commodity at the high school and collegiate levels, but he's never coached in the NBA.

Acknowledging that, Hurley is still a genuine dream hiring for a Lakers organization that could take a massive step forward under his watch.

5. Dan Hurley is a modern coach in every sense

The Lakers entered the 2024 coaching search with the need to find a head coach who fit the modern era. That has multiple meanings, as it applies to a coach's ability to connect with the new generation of athletes and their adaptability to the changing styles of play in the Association.

Dan Hurley has proven capable of doing this at the collegiate level, and he's done so in a manner that should translate well to the NBA.

Hurley hasn't been a stranger to landing five-star recruits at UConn, including projected lottery pick Stephon Castle. He's generally gotten by without depending on the biggest names in a high school recruiting class, however, all the while still having to find the superstar balance.

It's an unenviable task that often proves to be the undoing of coaches in every sport, but Hurley has done so well in that environment that he's led UConn to back-to-back National Championships.

As Hurley prepares to make the jump to the NBA, that gift is among his most valuable. In Los Angeles in specific, he'll have to strike the delicate balance between superstars who are already in their 30s and a vision that must take Los Angeles beyond their respective and collective primes.

Thankfully, Hurley is the type of modern coach who has the tools to navigate an undeniably unique situation to enter as a first-timer in the NBA.

4. Donovan Clingan and what he could mean for Anthony Davis

The Lakers have an All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive First Team honoree leading the team into the future. That's a great place to be, especially when one considers how consistently great Davis has been in the postseason individually.

With Davis established as the franchise player, the Lakers need to hire a head coach who can bring the best out of him—and Dan Hurley seems to fit the bill.

Hurley has experience coaching big men who provide value on both ends of the court. Over the past two seasons, he's helped center Donovan Clingan grow from a player who averaged just 13.2 minutes per game as a freshman to a potential lottery pick just one season later.

In 2024-25, Hurley incorporated Clingan into the offense by enabling him to make mistakes and trusting him to adapt to a well-rounded offensive role.

Clingan was empowered to use his size and developing skills in a role that enabled him to be consistently involved on offense. The trust shown to him to make plays around the basket unlocked a new level of potential that ultimately led to championship success.

With the baseline expectation of Clingan anchoring the defense as an elite shot-blocker, and the offensive opportunities to make his mark at multiple levels, Hurley showed an ability to utilize his star big in a prominent role.

With Davis, an All-NBA and more skilled version of Clingan in many respects, Hurley would have a chance to show what he could do with a similar approach in the Association.

3. Dan Hurley is an offensive mastermind

Watching the UConn Huskies run their offense is one of the most enjoyable experiences in sports. All five players are in constant motion and the ball never seems to stop moving until the best possible shot can be attempted by one of the countless shooters on the floor.

It's a wonderful approach to offense that has enabled UConn to win at the highest level and ultimately produce a full starting lineup of players who could be drafted in 2024.

UConn finished the 2023-24 season ranked No. 1 in the Big East in points and assists per game. It was also third in free throw attempts and, despite a more balanced scatter chart of shot attempts, fourth in three-point field goals made.

That's all an indication of how UConn plays, as it runs set plays for specific shots, but often leaves the option open to find a more efficient angle.

For the Lakers, this should be music to their ears. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are both in their 30s and would thus benefit from playing in an offense that creates shots for them, thus putting less pressure on them to work out of isolation.

This offensive strategy also lends itself to the trend in the NBA in which role players are as important as ever—and a system that accentuates their strengths is nothing short of essential.

2. Dan Hurley thrives on defense

The UConn Huskies reached the height of college basketball excellence by thriving on both ends of the floor. It's an unmistakably tall task, as managing to be elite on offense or defense is a rare feat, let alone in both regards.

Despite playing 40 games and competing against a long list of contending-level opponents, however, Hurley led UConn to top-10 success on the defensive end of the floor.

The Huskies finished the 2023-24 season ranked ninth in the country and first in the Big East in points allowed per game. UConn was also seventh among Division I teams in opponent field goal percentage and No. 1 in the conference in three-point field goals allowed and opponent three-point field goal percentage.

The ability to run teams off of the three-point line is invaluable at any level, as the Los Angeles Lakers learned during a frustrating 2023-24 season in which they ranked No. 28 in three-point field goals allowed.

The Huskies achieved this success by having an answer for opponents at every level. The guards and forwards were excellent at contesting and preventing three-point shots and did so in a controlled manner that funneled slashers straight into Clingan and his elite shot-blocking presence.

For a Lakers team that already has Anthony Davis waiting to play that role, Hurley's defensive acumen is one of the biggest selling points of all.

1. Dan Hurley is a winner

Current Connecticut Huskies head coach and potential Los Angeles Lakers leader Dan Hurley is the epitome of a winner. An assistant between 1996 and 2001, and a head coach over the past 23 years, Hurley has been a positive influence for decades on end.

For a Lakers organization that accepts nothing less than championship glory, adding a coach who knows how to win under pressure is as wise a decision as possible.

Hurley helped build St. Benedict's Prep into one of the top high school programs in the country between 2001 and 2010. He went on to lead Wagner College to its best record ever at 25-6 before guiding Rhode Island to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.

The rest is history, as Hurley has turned UConn into the standard in men's college basketball with consecutive National Championships.

It's worth noting that UConn went 14-18 in the season prior to Hurley taking over. His influence in creating winning programs at multiple stops is thus further evidence of the potential he has to become the ideal head coach for a middling Lakers team that hopes to return to title status.

There's never a guarantee that a coach will be able to translate their success from college to the NBA, but Hurley is as safe a bet as anyone.