The Coach of The Year award is never very glamorous or anticipated, yet is still important nonetheless. It is the award given to the guy who stepped up and led his team to either a phenomenal record, or a shocking bounce back season. This award could go to various guys, but I’m pretty sure one of these three leaders will take it home.
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics: Stevens and the Celtics have been an elite green machine this year, taking out top teams in the league left and right. Holding the fourth best defensive efficiency rating in the league, higher than the Warriors, the Celtics have been beasts on the defensive end this year. Stealing the ball about nine times per game, second in the NBA, and blocking nearly four shots, the Celtics are a team full of gritty stoppers who fight for every ball. A lot of this can be attributed to Steven’s demeanor and coaching abilities on the bench; as a young coach, Stevens has had to work to garner the full respect of some of his players, and it is a testament to his ability and dedication that his players have bought into his system to this extent. Running an up tempo offense with a strong assist to turnover ratio, 1.75 and fourth best in the NBA, Stevens has handcrafted a system perfect for this team and its players, a fact perfectly illustrated by Isaiah Thomas’ All-Star year. Regardless if Stevens wins the award or not, he and the Celtics have had a phenomenal run this year and he deserves a lot of credit for that.
Steve Kerr/Luke Walton Golden State Warriors: Coaching a team to the best record in the NBA is going to get you votes for coach of the year. Coaching a team to the best record the NBA has ever seen doesn’t hurt your chances. What Luke Walton and Steve Kerr have achieved this year with this Golden State team is nothing short of astonishing. One might say that the Warriors roster is one filled with superstars and that this somehow discredits the coaching staff, I disagree completely. With lineup changes and playbook additions the Warriors won the NBA Championship last year; with similar shifts and changes, Walton and Kerr have made this team the greatest in history. Leading the league in both offensive efficiency (1.108) and in three point percentage (at 41% as a team), the Warriors effectively and efficiently shot teams out of the gym this year. But Kerr and Walton weren’t just running a one dimensional team, as the Warriors were ranked fifth in defensive efficiency this year. Its true Steph Curry’s wild shots and Draymond Green’s stellar defense will be remembered when we look back on this historic team, but without Steve Kerr and Walton’s start to the season, where would the Dubs be?
Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers: If someone was to tell me the Blazers would end their season with a winning record of 44-38, I’d probably say they were crazy. After losing four of the teams starting five, including All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, the team was a shell of itself. Yet this didn’t stop Stotts and his Blazers from pushing on and becoming one of this years biggest surprises in the NBA. Stotts made do with what he had, and what he had was an All-Star point guard in Damian Lillard, a few solid veterans, and some young talent that didn’t fit in other organizations. Challenging Lillard to step up and lead this team, Lillard has played well enough to force his name into the MVP conversation, even helping increase the teams offensive efficiency from ninth in the league last year to sixth this year at 1.049. The role players who may have faded into the fray of other teams have also stepped up in Rip City, as Portlands bench has proven to be strong thus far in the playoffs. Up against very strong competition this year, who knows if Stotts will win; but based on what he accomplished this year with this team, Stotts deserves votes.
Honorable Mentions: Steve Clifford, Jeff Van Gundy, Dwayne Casey
All images via Google.com
All Stats via Team Rankings.com