As a player, the late Wes Unseld Sr. led Washington to an NBA championship, and now his son is in line to be the franchise’s next head coach.
The Wizards are closing in on a deal to make Wes Unseld Jr., most recently associate head coach of the Denver Nuggets, their new head coach. Unseld Jr. would succeed Scott Brooks, who was not offered a new deal after five seasons in charge of the Wizards.
Unseld Jr., 49, literally grew up around the franchise. Born in 1972, before the team’s final season in Baltimore, Unseld Jr. started spending time in the Bullets locker room before games at age 5, and would then ride in the car with his father for the drive home.
Unseld Jr. watched his father lead the Bullets to the NBA title in 1978 and then transition from a 14-year playing career into coaching and front office roles with the team.
After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 1997, Unseld Jr. was considering graduate school when instead he decided to go to work for his father, who was serving as general manager of the Wizards.
Unseld Jr. paid his dues for eight years, working in the Wizards’ personnel department and traveling the country as one of the team’s advance scouts.
In 2005, Unseld Jr. was promoted to assistant coach on Eddie Jordan’s staff with the Wizards. After six seasons, he spent time as an assistant with Golden State and Orlando before his most recent six-year run in Denver.
With the Nuggets, Unseld Jr. earned high praise for his work on the defensive side of the ball. This past season, the Nuggets finished 11th in the NBA in points allowed per possession, even though the team’s players are not considered among the league’s best defenders.
Unseld Jr. is set to take over a Wizards team that is desperate to improve on defense. With Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook leading the way, offense is not an issue, but the Wizards ranked last in the NBA this past season in points allowed.