Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015-16 Season Preview: Picking the Coach of the Year

The Red Auerbach trophy is awarded annually to the NBA's best head coach, although the honor has only gone to the leader of the eventual champion just three times in the last 42 years and a total of six times in the 52 years of the award's existence.  Another interesting wrinkle, three of the last six winners aren't even occupying a head coaching gig this year.  Mike Budenholzer took home the award last year, after the Hawks obliterated the Eastern Conference en route to 60 wins.  This one's a bit of a crapshoot, as coaches whose teams outperformed expectations tend to get more consideration than the coach of a team who was expected to be good and delivered.  Here's my take on the top three candidates for this year's Coach of the Year race.

1: Dave Joerger - Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have won 105 games over the past two seasons, yet Joerger has less Coach of the Year votes in that span than titans of the game such as Monty Williams and Dwayne Casey.  Joerger actually has zero votes in that timeframe, which I find ridiculous.  It may take a huge year from the Grizzlies to get Joerger the respect he deserves.  I have the Grizzlies 4th in my soon-to-be-released power rankings, so I think this is his year.

2: Steve Kerr - Golden State Warriors

Kerr finished second last year too, probably because a coach gets less credit for leading his team to the league's best record when he has the MVP and a bunch of other good pieces.  That doesn't mean he isn't a great coach though.  It's no coincidence that the Warriors took off after Kerr replaced Mark Jackson.

-- EDIT -- This was posted before it was announced that Kerr would take a leave of absence for a back injury, leaving Luke Walton to coach the Warriors.  In that case, slide Budenholzer to #2, and add in Gregg Popovich.

3: Mike Budenholzer - Atlanta Hawks

Last year's winner, Budenholzer will have earned his repeat if he can get the Hawks back to the top of the East after losing DeMarre Carroll.

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