As much as we may like or hate a coach we still have to respect them and know that they are needed for a teams success. As sports fans we are so quick to dog a coach out when everything he does fails, saying that his process is not good enough but we are so quick to jump to the aid of a coach we like when his system is not working as well. This season we have seen some of the mainstays stay atop of their game but we have witnessed a few of the newcomers take their rightful spot at the top of the mountain as well. How much credit do we give David Blatt of Cleveland? I mean to be honest he does have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the floor every night. What about Steve Kerr who took over Mark Jackson’s playoff team who I believe would have probably the same record with or without Kerr at the helm.
A coach has to be able to get the best out of his players no matter the circumstances. It’s not always about the wins and losses when looking at coaching. Can the coach be a leader on and off the court when need be and be a team leader when the mics are in his/her face? Can he/she teach a group of offensively gifted players to become great defenders and vice versa? Those are the true measures of a coach because the players play the game but the coach teaches the necessary techniques to get you there.
With that being said let’s take a look at a few candidates for COY.
Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics)
Yeah OK, so the Celtics might not make the playoffs and they play in the Eastern Conference where the Kentucky Wildcats might be in the playoff hunt but who cares? The job he has done with this team has to get him a few votes. From the beginning of the year it was The Tank Campaign and that was with Rondo still pushing the point but he was traded and so was Jeff Green. What did Stevens do? He tinkered with is lineup and found the players that fit what he wanted to do and taught them how to play team basketball. They brought into his system and managed to stay in the hunt even when their best player in Jared Sullinger went down with what was seen as an season ending injury. The Celtics are not the best offensive or defensive team but they play organized team ball. They have been winning with Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley, not if that’s not good coaching, I have no idea what is.
Kevin McHale (Houston Rockets)
It’s time to give Kev his props as a coach as well. 90% of the fans will point the finger to James Harden and rightfully so but McHale did have a hand in all player development. His offense to start the season was to built around an inside/outside game featuring Harden and Howard but as usual Howard got injured and McHale had to alter his game plan again this season. He was dragged through the mud for bringing in Josh Smith but look how that has worked out for him. He made another great move in signing Corey Brewer but his best move may have been getting Harden to become a better defender. The Rockets are fighting for homecourt advantage in the West and that alone should get him some brownie points.
Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta Hawks)
Go ahead and lie I might just believe you if you told me you saw this coming. At what point last season did you see the Hawks having this kind of turnaround year? I have faith in Horford and Millsap but the breakout year that Teague, Carroll and Korver are having, now those are Cinderella stories. The whole “we don’t have or need a superstar” mantra is all good but who believes that Millsap or Horford is not a star? 4 players on the All Star team says it all but when they talk about the Hawks success one name forgets to get mentioned and that is the lead guy on the sideline, Mike Budenholzer. The Hawks are not one of the best defensive or rebounding teams but they find ways to win, as they have already wrapped up the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Anytime your team can fight off the Bulls and the Cavs, you have done your job.
Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors)
I guess the unwritten rule in the NBA is to give the COY to the Coach whose team has the best record in the league. If that holds true then we just need to hand the trophy to the man whose team has been at the top since the beginning of the year, Kerr. The Warriors have been able to hold off the Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers and Grizzlies for the top spot in the NBA, respect and props must go out to Kerr for that. The Warriors sit in the top 5 in both defensive and offensive categories and that is due to great play from the players but great practice and in-game coaching as well. Kerr has done his job with a group of shooters and turned them into title contenders for that alone his name should stand tall above everyone else.