Adelman, Rivers, Mcmillan or Scott? Who Deserves the Coach of the Year Award?
This NBA season has been one of the most competitive in recent memory. The West was not decided until practically the final game of the season, and every game during the latter part of the season had a playoff-type atmosphere.
There have also been some feel-good stories this season as well from a coaching perspective. I will make a case for four coaches who deserve Coach of the Year honors. I will start with a dark-horse candidate for this award: Nate McMillan.
Everybody foresaw a season of troubles and agony for the Blazers after the season-ending injury to Greg Oden's knee. Nobody expected this team to achieve a .500 record.
McMillan was able to bring the Blazers together after Oden's injury, and they never looked back. They won 13 games in a row at one point.
One of McMillan's players, Brandon Roy, was voted to play in the All-Star game and was the first to represent Portland since Rasheed Wallace in 2001.
The biggest thing McMillan did for Portland was that he removed the "Jail-Blazers" persona they franchise has lived with since the late 90's.
Another coach in the Western Conference, Rick Adelman, also deserves some consideration for the award.
The Houston Rockets struggled early in the season, and it looked like Adelman was to blame. They looked like a much softer, more offensive minded team when he came on board.
They eventually got their act together in midseason, but Yao Ming went down with an injury. Many critics wrote the Rockets off by saying they cannot win unless they have Yao.
Instead, Adelman instilled confidence in his team and asked many of the role players to step up. Players like Shane Battier and Luis Scola did just that, and the Rockets obtained a playoff spot.
The Rockets went on a 22-game winning streak, the second longest in NBA history. It was Adelman's confidence that instigated the fire in the Rockets.
Adelman's divisional adversary, Byron Scott, also deserves much credit for the turnaround of the New Orleans Hornets.
For the past two seasons, New Orleans has been a franchise that has landed itself in the lottery. They were the beneficiaries of drafting Chris Paul, whom I think should be the league's MVP in front of Kobe Bryant, in the fourth slot of the 2005 draft.
The Hornets progressed to become the second seed in the Western Conference. Byron Scott deserves much credit for this. Many people believed the Hornets would be an above average team, but they exceeded expectations by winning 56 games this season.
Scott had two All-Stars, David West and Chris Paul, and he was chosen to coach the West with his Hornets achieving a 29-12 record at the break.
This has been the Hornets' most successful season, and the franchise won its first division title in the NBA's toughest division: The Southwest. We will find out what this young but talented team can accomplish in a playoff atmosphere.
While these three are worthy candidates, my vote would go to Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics.
Much of the praise should go to Danny Ainge, who should be the GM of the Year, for trading for the All-Star forward Kevin Garnett and All-Star sharpshooter Ray Allen.
These two players have changed the face of the Boston franchise; they went from a perennial lottery team in recent memory to a team that needs to be taken very seriously.
Doc deserves this award because he brought together three all star players to play together as a team. Critics thought this idea would not work due to issues of chemistry.
"The Boston Three Party," as one Sports Center anchor called Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce, came together in pursuit of a championship ring. Everybody can tell this team is hungry to win, arguably more than any other team in the league.
Rivers led the biggest turnaround in NBA history this year. They went from a 24-58 record last season to a 66-16 season this year, a 42-win difference.
Rivers also fired up role players like Rajon Rondo to become key parts of the team. Boston is back to relevance for the first time since the Bird and Parish era.
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