ROUNDTABLE: Coach of the Year
Five of OTG 's brightest give you their pick for Coach of the Year
Now this is tough, but give me Mike Malone of the Denver Nuggets. I think Denver will finish in the sixth seed in the west and win 48 games. That would be an impressive finish in a brutal western conference. If he gets the Nugs to fifty wins, he has a real shot. I think Malone helps the Nuggets maintain a top five offense, revolving around Nikola Jokic, while improving a dismal defense. Last year the Nuggets were second to last in defense, expect them to finish around 15th to 20th this season. That should be enough for almost fifty wins. Mike Malone is a good coach, and his players respect him. He is a good defensive mind, despite last year’s rankings. He will right the ship on that end and get his players to buy in. A lot of other coaches of good teams will simply do what they were supposed to do. That’s usually not enough to win the award, unless you have a special season. Other guys to keep an eye on are Billy Donovan, Tom Thibodeau, Brad Stevens and Dwayne Casey.
Brad Stevens has respect coming out of his wazoo. That respect is absolutely earned; his knowledge and passion for the game have given him an esteemed reputation despite his relative inexperience within the NBA system. Stevens is going to have a challenging year putting all the new pieces together and getting players like Kyrie Irving to buy into his system, though preseason form has been promising so far. Only Doc Rivers and Billy Donovan have a more challenging job integrating their new players. Kyrie himself mentioned his to play under Stevens and expects to see his game taken to new levels, especially on the passing end. If the Boston coach can get the Celtics to the top seed and somehow topple the behemoth in Lebron James to take his team to the Finals then he’ll certainly be a favourite to win the award.
Coach of the Year is an award that I really forget about sometimes because there are always deserving candidates, but who do you go with? Do you go with the coach who did the most with the least talent or do you go with the coach of the team that dominated? Both are deserving in some ways. Having said that, I am going to go with Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers. He has been the coach of the team throughout The Process and his coaching record has paid for it. According to Basketball Reference, he has won only 75 of his 328 games as a head coach, but this could be the year that the 76ers make the playoffs. Something tells me that if Joel Embiid can stay healthy and they can make the playoffs, he gets the votes for the fact that they are going to rely heavily on young players that include two rookies and a guy that has played 31 games in his career. They would also need to improve their win record by 10 or more games from 28 wins a season ago to get into the playoffs, which could help him in the eyes of voters.
The Coach of the Year is going to be Brad Stevens. It seems like Stevens has not received the recognition he deserves in the NBA. The former Butler head coach is a revolutionary in his own right. He managed to take a Boston Celtics team and rebuild them into one of the top teams in basketball. Until this point, the biggest problem with Celtics was their lack of star power during the Stevens tenure. That has changed going into 2017. Stevens now has two bon-a-fide stars in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. He will certainly find a way to incorporate the two stars into his scheme going forward. Although Boston looks a lot different this season, Stevens is the perfect coach to bring this team back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
If his success in the NBA is not enough to prove he will take the next step this season, his college coaching career is. Stevens had a winning record every year in with Butler and was an NCAA runner up two years in a row. For a mid-major school to accomplish that feat twice in ten years in impressive, but two years in a row is unheard of. Stevens is a great mind that will prove his worth again this season with the Celtics. This is the year he wins coach of the year.
Last year’s Miami Heat were a slow starting bunch before catching fire for an unbelievable 30-11 run after starting 11-30. Led by solid defense, that during the same streak had a rating of 103.3, third best in the league over the same period, The Heat narrowly missed the playoffs but one fact was glaringly obvious: Miami overachieved in the latter half of the season by a wide margin. And what do they say about overachieving teams? Behind them is a great coach like Erik Spoelstra. If the last two years show anything, it’s that Spo gets unfairly shit on by the critics saying he had no real strategic skill set thanks to being able to rely on the King and company during his early career. But that was then. After losing the biggest star in the history of the franchise, Chris Bosh sidelined with blood clots, then losing their best player for 20 games, the Heat started the season like a burning bag of shit. Not only did Spo save the last year’s campaign while turning Miami into the most fun team in the NBA, he did it all while wearing a bunch of Pat Riley approved suits and having the whitest teeth in the league. After doing more than anyone ever should with the rosters he had in the past two seasons (I mean looking at the 15-16’ roster (it’s amazing that team won more than 30 games, let alone a playoff series) and with the Bosh-needs-Xarelto saga over, Miami has some stability finally. Expect Spo to lay down some solid defensive schemes especially with everyone’s favorite goon, Kelly Olynyk, now coming off the bench. Don’t believe Spo got the stops? Fact: Miami has finished in the top 7 for Defensive rating over the last two years. I expect Miami to, again, overachieve, grab a 4 or 5 seed, and get Spoelstra some deserved recognition in the process.