Friday afternoon, the NBA released finalists for the league’s annual awards.
Regarding Coach of the Year, I ranked each finalist, and made their case for honors below:
Erik Spoelstra (3rd)
If you were to go back to November, and tell Coach Spoelstra that he would be a finalist for this award, it would more than surprise him.
The Miami Heat had an absolutely horrid start, going (11-30) in the first half of the season. However, in a Cinderella story fashion, they made a huge rebound, going (30-11) in the second half, missing playoff berth by an inch.
Putting together this sort of comeback, and rejuvenating a team at the bottom is nothing short of impressive and inspiring, earning Erik Spoelstra his place as a finalist for this award.
Mike D’Antoni (2nd)
In his first year with the Houston Rockets, D’Antoni packed extra rocket fuel. Last season, the Rockets squeezed into the playoffs where they were embarrassed by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. This year, they (nearly) ruled the league, and were arguably the best offensive team in the NBA, finishing with a (55-27) record and at the 3rd seed in the Western Conference.
The Rockets took on an identity as a three-point shooting squad, and broke the record for most attempted and scored by late March. By the end of the year, Houston went (1,181-3,306) on three-pointers, resulting in a (.357) average.
Although Houston made a name for themselves, and completed a huge turnaround, they were still embarrassed yet again in the playoffs, to fellow award finalist Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Coach D’Antoni did an amazing job with managing this team, and implementing a new offensive approach, but will fall as a runner up for this award.
Greg Popovich (1st)
The San Antonio Spurs’ basketball guru, longtime coach, and 3x Coach of the Year recipient is back at it again.
In their first season without Tim Duncan, the Spurs have remained title contenders. At age 68, Popovich led his team to a league second best record (61-21), and their 20th straight playoff appearance. San Antonio reached the Western Conference Semi Finals for the 10th time under Popovich, and led the league in defensive efficiency for the 8th time.
Coach Pop , even went as far as to knock off fellow finalist’ Mike D’Antoni, who did all but “secure the bag,” as the kids say.
Out of the three finalists, Coach Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs had the most successful season, and it’s mostly credible to his mythical coaching tactics.
Popovich and the Spurs put together an amazing season, despite the depth required to reach and NBA Finals, and he is the true Coach of the Year.
All stats and information provided by ESPN, NBA.com, and Basketball Reference. Featured image provided by Heat Zone via Google Images.