Who is the 2011-12 Coach of the Year? (Top Ten Coach Rankings)
* Scott Brooks and Eric Spoelstra from Oklahoma City and Miami respectively have both had great years, but have stayed relatively injury free and have their teams playing up to their talent and overall expectations, which will not make them serious contenders for the award.
1. Gregg Popovich- San Anotnio Spurs
- This will be an extremely close race, but the favorite has got to be Gregg Popovich, who has the Spurs at the top of the Western Conference standings. In years past this would not have been a big deal for the team, but considering Manu Ginobili has missed about half the season, Tim Duncan is a shell of his former self and a large part of the rotation is extremely young and previously unproven, makes this quite remarkable. No other coach in basketball could have done as well as Popovich in this situation, which makes the award Popovich’s to lose.
2. Rick Adelman- Minnesota Timberwolves
- The Timberwolves have had a breakout year under new coach Rick Adelman. They may not make the playoffs, but that cannot take away how far the team has come. Yes, the players have had a huge part in this, as has the arrival of Ricky Rubio, who was sensational before tearing his knee last month, but the biggest move of their off season may have been the arrival of coach Adelman. Adelman has wisely abandoned the team’s foolish attempt at the triangle offense, used by former coach Kurt Rambis and has, as usual, gotten the very best out of his team. Arguably Adelman’s most impressive achievement this season is creating a workable rotation that uses three point guards, no shooting guards and about fifty forwards. A lot of players have stepped up for the Wolves, but they would not be where they are and in the playoff chase without Adelman.
3. Tom Thibodeau- Chicago Bulls
- No coach has ever won this award in back-to-back years, but that may change this year, as Tom Thibodeau has been an even better coach this season. The fact that the Bulls have the best record in the league despite missing Rose for 22 games, Deng for 9 games and Hamilton for 38 games is quite an accomplishment. The reason for their success is Thibodeau’s defensive coaching and the never quit attitude he has brought to the team. Why has he not been given a new contract?
4. Frank Vogel- Indiana Pacers
- In Vogel’s first full season as a head coach in the NBA, he currently has his team in third place in the Eastern Conference and has his team playing consistently great basketball. He has done a wonderful job of developing his young team and has the team playing very efficient defense, despite the fact that the team was built on offense. He is definitely one of the brightest young minds in the NBA.
5. Stan Van Gundy- Orlando Magic
- Van Gundy has had a phenomenal season, as he has the Magic gunning for a top four seed, but the real work has been behind the scenes and off the court. He has a superstar player who wants him fired and has had to deal with a locker with constant trade rumors for multiple players. The fact that he has kept the team afloat and actually winning is a great feat. He may not be in Orlando next year, but that should not take away from the excellent job he has done all year.
6. Byron Scott- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Scott coached the league’s worst team a year ago, in fact there were probably a few college teams that could have beaten the Cavaliers in their first post Lebron season. The team won’t make the playoffs this year, but have made huge strides this season and Scott has been a major part of this. The biggest change from last season is of course, the arrival of number one pick and eventual Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, who has been spectacular. The Cavaliers are a very young team that plays hard every night, which is actually a rarity in the NBA and it is because of the leadership and coaching ability of Byron Scott.
7. Lionel Hollins- Memphis Grizzlies
- For the second straight year, Hollins has flown under the radar, but the excellence of his coaching cannot be understated. Last year the team lost Rudy Gay to injury and Hollins turned the offense over to Randolph and Gasol down low and preached defense. This season with Randolph out for the majority of the season, he turned the team back into a perimeter-oriented offense, while still demanding the same great defense. It is no easy task to change the offensive philosophy of a team twice in two years and still have the team thrive, which makes Hollins one of the best coaches in the league. If you have talent and preach defense, your team will overachieve.
8. Ty Corbin– Utah Jazz
- Corbin has turned the Jazz back into playoff contenders, which is no small accomplishment as the team has lost All-Star Deron Williams and coach Jerry Sloan in the past year. What is most impressive is how he has seamlessly worked their four lottery picks over the last two years into the rotation, to go along with their cast of strong veterans. The team has exceeded almost all expectations and Corbin, who is in his first full year as a head coach, deserves a lot of credit.
9. Larry Drew- Atlanta Hawks
- Drew has the Hawks in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoffs, despite missing the team’s best player, Al Horford, for almost the entire season. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith have kept the team afloat on the floor, but without the excellent coaching of Drew, the team would not have been able to overcome the loss of Horford. Most kept waiting for the team to falter and fall down the standings, but it never happened, which is a testament to the stability that coach Drew brings.
10. Mike Brown- LA Lakers
- After a difficult start to the season, Mike Brown has the Lakers playing great basketball going into the final stretch. Being the man who replaces Phil Jackson, the greatest basketball coach of all time is no easy task and Brown has done quite well. Before the trade for Ramon Sessions, the team had nothing behind Bryant, Bynum and Gasol and it surprising that the team was able to win so often. The team now seems to be legitimate title contenders and Brown has already passed his most important test, getting the attention and respect of Kobe.