The Wizards on Saturday confirmed the hiring of Wes Unseld Jr. as the team’s head coach. Unseld becomes the 25th coach in franchise history, and he takes over for Scott Brooks, who compiled a 183-207 record over five seasons.
Unseld, who was an NBA assistant for 16 years — including six seasons with the Wizards from 2005-11 — has spent the last six seasons in Denver, where he helped Nikola Jokic become the lowest-drafted MVP in NBA history. Moreover, those Nuggets teams finished 10 games over .500 in four of his six seasons there and made the NBA playoffs each of the last three seasons.
OFFICIAL: We’ve named Wes Unseld Jr. the 25th head coach in franchise history.
Welcome home, Coach! #DCAboveAll
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) July 17, 2021
This will be Unseld’s first time as a head coach.
MORE: ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ review
“I want to thank (Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard) and (Wizards governor Ted Leonsis) for the opportunity to lead this talented team both on and off the court and to continue moving the franchise in a positive direction,” Unseld said in a team statement. “Becoming a head coach in the NBA is a goal that I have pursued my entire adult life and to have that dream realized by coming full circle back to Washington is truly special. I look forward to representing the DMV, connecting with our fans and establishing a new standard for Wizards basketball.”
Said Sheppard: “Wes is one of the most highly regarded assistant coaches in the NBA and clearly separated himself from the large and diverse group of candidates we considered. His strong record as an in-game tactician along with his attention to detail on both sides of the ball, combined with his reputation for player development and outstanding character during his 20-plus years of coaching, left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level.”
Unseld had a history with the Wizards even before he became an assistant coach. After going undrafted out of Johns Hopkins in 1997, he went to work for Washington as a personnel scout under his father, Wes Unseld, who was general manager at the time. The younger Unseld served in that capacity for eight years before being promoted to assistant coach in 2005.
In all, the younger Unseld worked in the Wizards organization for 14 years before leaving for Golden State. He will take over a team that has finished below .500 in each of the last three seasons and has not advanced beyond the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs since 2017.