Its a good problem, no doubt, but there are a lot of great candidates for NBA Coach of the Year. In no particular order:
1. Byron Scott: He’s done a lot with this team, which had just 18 wins when he took over. They are challenging for the best record in the West and have the worst bench of any contending Western team. Behind Tyson Chandler is Melvin Ely. That should be Byron Scott’s opening and closing argument for this award.
2. Phil Jackson: The team was playing well before it acquired Pau Gasol, and an argument can be made that they’d be roughly as good with a mediocre coach (Doc Rivers?) Though I think his triangle offense has worked amazingly well this year and major props should go to his handling of the Kobe situation, I really don’t think he deserves it over some of the other coaches on this list.
3. Rick Adelman: The winning streak erased in most people’s minds the fact that the team struggled mightily through the first third of the season. If they can keep up the pace over the next few weeks, I think Adelman has a decent argument, but if the streak came first and the slump after, you wouldn’t give him the award either.
4. Mo Cheeks: Well, I didn’t really think I’d be putting Mo on this list (my old roommate was from Philly and abhors Mo Cheeks), but with a few more wins under this team’s belt, I think he can make a passable argument. The Sixers have turned into a second-half of the season team, but Thaddeus Young has had a great impact and Andre Miller is playing out of his mind. I don’t think comes close to winning it, but he does deserve some recognition.
5. Jerry Sloan: Why not write off the entire season and just give this award to everyone who deserves this award in its lifetime achievement form? Jerry Sloan hasn’t done anything different this year than he did last (honestly, ten thousand Deron Williams – Carlos Boozer pick and rolls is only so impressive) so if he got this award it’d be one of the most obvious make-up calls since Tim Donaghy was in the league. I’m kind of okay with them doing this as long as they give Kobe the MVP and then promise never to get into this situation again. The NBA: Where not having enough awards to properly recognize your league’s own excellence happens.
6. Doc Rivers: Correlation vs. Causation. Doc Rivers should not win this award under any circumstances.
7. Flip Saunders: Does consistency make you ineligible? Because unless I’m mistaken, the Pistons are a really good team with a deep bench and starters who haven’t been worn out because Flip has played Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey. Flip has a good claim to the award, but I doubt he’ll be given his props.
8. Don Nelson: The Warriors are 43-27 as I write this. They went0-6 to start the season, so they’ve essentially beenon a 43-71 tear ever since. Considering how bad this team was before he got here, and how exciting their style of play has been, Don Nelson has a claim to COY. He has turned the Warriors into a great team that, if it had more talent, could seriously challenge in the West. Is it just me or does this seem like a DN pattern: start from scratch, build a good team from role players and throw-aways, but never add enough pieces to turn into a true title contender. Its such a distinct pattern that I almost think he does it on purpose. I think Nelson really enjoys being the underdog, and the Warriors have definitely adopted this attitude.
9. Stan Van Gundy: He has turned a three man team into a serious Eastern Contender. Seriously, does anyone in the league fear Jameer Nelson and whoever they decide to start at shooting guard? If you consider Dwight Howard to be their primary Center, they don’t even have a legit Power Forward! They’re at 3rd place in the East with two SF’s and a beastly Center!
10. Eddie Jordan: He’s done so much with so little. Caron Butler has been injured for long periods of time, Gilbert Arenas has played only 8 games but has remained a constant distraction (how he’s managed to be both irrelevant and maddeningly annoying is beyond me) and the rest of the team ranges from extremely young to extremely mediocre. How he has them playing consistently and surviving in the Eastern Conference is beyond me. In a perfect world, he’d be a top 3 candidate for sure.
11. Mike D’Antoni: He’s coached two different teams successfully this year, right? The degree to which I and nearly every other NBA observer criticized this trade contrasts dramatically to the degree of success this trade has brought. The way the Suns are playing with Shaq now is so smooth that you could be confused into thinking that the team has had Shaq since the start of the season.