Coach of the Year
picks and analysis by Devin Gray (@devingray33) and Pat Choi (@patty_choi)
PC - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs tied the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the league but Gregg Popovich gets the nod over Tom Thibodeau because the West is the tougher conference to win in. A lot of people would pick Thibodeau to be the coach of the year because the Bulls held the number one spot over the Miami Heat in the East while their star Derrick Rose missed 27 games of the regular season, but Popovich also dealt with his stars missing games. Manu Ginobili missed 32 due to a broken shooting hand, and Tony Parker and Tim Duncan missed a total of 14 in a shortened season. During the 66-game regular season San Antonio started off with a horrid 13-9 record until the end of January, but for the next three months the Spurs went 37-7 with an .84 winning percentage. With the win on Sunday against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, the Spurs have had three different occurrences with 11-game winning streaks this season since their win on Jan. 30th.
DG - Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
The last bench boss to win back-to-back coach of the year awards in the NBA? How about NEVER. No coach has ever won the NBA’s coach of the year award in consecutive years, but this will be the year when Thibodeau wins again. A Bulls team that played 27 games without last year’s MVP Derrick Rose managed to once gain post a better record than the Miami Heat and win the best overall record in the NBA (Chicago holds the tie-breaker over San Antonio). The Bulls also missed Luol Deng for 12 games and Rip Hamilton for 38, but a deep bench bought into Thibs’ defensive mantra which made CJ Watson, John Lucas III and Mike James look like a dangerous backcourt. Where the Spurs had the best offence in the league, the Bulls clearly had the best defence allowing a league-low 95.5 points per 100 posessions. The Bulls also remained poised when faced with adversity, and lost back-to-back games just once all season.