The Portland Trail Blazers have overachieved all season long after their starting lineup was dismantled over the summer, and head coach Terry Stotts has rightly drawn praise now that his team is in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said he believes Stotts is the "front-runner" to receive the NBA's Coach of the Year hardware, according to ESPN.com's Royce Young.
While it may sound a bit strange for Stotts to receive that sort of compliment on the surface considering the Blazers are just three games over .500 (30-27), context is crucial.
Growing Up: Damian Lillard Tells Us How He Improved His Jump Shot as a Kid
Growing Up: the Game That Showed Isaiah Thomas He Could Be an NBA Star
Growing Up: How Kyrie Irving Became One of the League’s Most Lethal Scorers
NBA Africa Game 2017: Embiid, Porzingis & More Battle in Johannesburg
NBA Stars Are All in on #DriveByDunkChallenge, the Summer's Hottest Meme
Lonzo Ball Proves He’s a Big Baller by Winning Summer League MVP
Best and Worst Moves of the NBA Offseason So Far
Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft
Caleb Swanigan NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Trail Blazers Rookie
Jayson Tatum NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Celtics Rookie
Grading the Jimmy Butler Trade for the Chicago Bulls
Zach Collins NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Blazers Rookie
Josh Jackson NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Suns Rookie
Lonzo Ball NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Lakers Rookie
Pick 1: Markelle Fultz NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Sixers Rookie
The Golden State Warriors Have Secured Their Place in NBA Finals History
Warriors and Cavaliers Scuffle
LeBron James Goes Off the Backboard and Slams It Down
Kevin Durant and Lebron James Jawing
Kevin Durant Is One Win Away from Capping Off an Unbelievable Year
Portland entered the 2015-16 regular season with just one holdover (Damian Lillard) from last year's starting lineup after LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum all parted ways with the franchise via trades or free agency.
Not surprisingly, the team was rightly expected to suffer serious regression in the win column. But despite the tremendous turnover the Blazers have had to deal with, Stotts has had his team humming.
Now rolling with a rotation that consists of Lillard, rising star C.J. McCollum, free-agent signee Al-Farouq Aminu, young castoffs Noah Vonleh and Moe Harkless, Mason Plumlee, Allen Crabbe, Ed Davis and Gerald Henderson, the Blazers rank seventh in offensive efficiency behind surefire postseason qualifiers.
|NBA's Most Efficient Offenses (2015-16)|
|1||Golden State Warriors||112.5|
|2||Oklahoma City Thunder||109.7|
|3||San Antonio Spurs||109.3|
|5||Los Angeles Clippers||106.6|
|7||Portland Trail Blazers||105.2|
Perhaps more impressive is that Portland's offensive rating of 105.2 is just fractional points off the pace (105.5) that last year's group set en route to winning 51 games and capturing a Northwest Division crown, per NBA.com.
And as last Friday's 137-105 drubbing of the Golden State Warriors proved, the Blazers aren't messing around. They've won six straight and 16 of their last 22 dating back to the start of 2016, trends that indicate Stotts' squad is hitting its stride at the perfect time.
Carlisle certainly belongs in the conversation thanks to the way he's propelled a fairly lackluster Mavericks roster into the postseason picture, but Stotts' case has been strengthened in a major way as Portland has defied expectations and emerged as a potential threat to pull off a first-round upset.