Saturday, April 14, 2007

NBA Awards: Coach of the Year

This seems like a good place to start. By all accounts, it is a four-horse race between Avery Johnson, Jerry Sloan, Sam Mitchell, and Jeff Van Gundy. However, picking between these guys is proving to be a difficult task. I think the best thing you can do is come up with a method and then just apply it, without worrying so much about the results. What methodology will I use? I certainly won't be following the path of ESPN's Marc Stein who (and I'm not kidding you about this) opted for Sloan because he "didn't even have Utah as a playoff team" in his predictions. Oh, so your predictions are so good that anyone who surpasses them must be a miracle worker? You have to be kidding me. By that token, Mike D'Antoni wins my vote, because I thought it would be hard to incorporate Amare and that the Clippers would win the division. Does the fact that Phoenix won while the Clippers sucked mean that D'Antoni is the coach of the year? Or does it mean that I was an idiot and made a stupid prediction? I'm going to guess the latter, but then again, I lack the all-seeing genius of Marc Stein.

As for MY methodology, I am going with the "change out" test. With a different coach, would the teams have performed the same? It is hard to imagine that the Mavs would be this good without Avery, but I also believe that they could have a robot coach and still win 65 games with that roster. Sorry, Avery. The Raptors are in the same boat. It seems like Bosh's development and the work of GM Bryan Colangelo are more resonsible than any coaching genius on Mitchell's part for the Raps' turnaround. And I think Van Gundy has been holding Houston back for the past three years, so I'm not about to start giving him any credit. That leaves Sloan, which makes sense to me. He found a way to use Okur and Boozer together (even though neither of them block shots), he masked the complete and total lack of a shooting guard all year, and - perhaps most importantly - he got through to Deron Williams and turned him into an All-Star level point guard. Unlike Stein I DID have Utah winning their division, but luckily for Sloan, I won't hold that against him.

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