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Wes Unseld Jr named as Washington Wizards' new head coach

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Wes Unseld Jr. during a practice with the Denver Nuggets
Image: Wes Unseld Jr. during a practice with the Denver Nuggets

The Washington Wizards officially announced Wes Unseld Jr as the franchise's 25th head coach on Saturday evening.

Unseld, 49, is a familiar name for long-time Wizards observers, as he is the son of the late Hall of Famer Wes Unseld Sr, who was the 1968-69 NBA MVP and a five-time All-Star for the franchise.

The younger Unseld had been a Nuggets assistant since 2015 and was a Wizards assistant coach from 2005-11. The elder Unseld, who died 13 months ago at age 74, holds franchise records for rebounds, games and minutes played. He also helped Washington wins their lone NBA title in 1978 and later served as general manager as well as coach for the franchise.

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During his tenure with the Nuggets, Unseld Jr was instrumental in developing Nikola Jokic into the lowest-drafted MVP in NBA history and the year-to-year improvement of Jamal Murray as one of the top young guards in the NBA. He served under the title of associate head coach in his final year at Denver.

"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," Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said. "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+ years of coaching left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level."

Between his stints with Washington and Denver, Unseld spent two-plus seasons (2012-15) as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic and one season (2011-12) with the Golden State Warriors.

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks looks on during the first half of Game 4 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass).
Image: Former Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has now been hired as an assistant by the Portland Trail Blazers

"I want to thank Tommy and Mr 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. "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."

Unseld replaces Scott Brooks, who put together a 34-38 record in 2020-21, and helped the team navigate the play-in rounds to claim the No 8 seed in the East. Brooks went 183-207 in five seasons as Washington's coach.

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