A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2010-11 NBA Predictions: Coach of the Year

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Given that I’ve lumped this in with the previous two awards, and what you know about the history of this award, you might be expecting another rant here, but I’ll spare you.  It’s true that the list of COY winners doesn’t correlate much at all with the how coaches are actually rated as extraordinary, and that’s a problem for the award’s credibility and importance, but the issue here lies in the difficulty of evaluating coaches in a one year time span.

No one doubts that Phil Jackson’s a great coach, but if he retired tomorrow, I doubt many would expect the Lakers to suffer greatly.  That’s not a problem with Phil’s coaching, but just the nature of coaching in general.  While coaches can have day to day impact with discipline, chemistry, and adjustments, the big impact is in building the great system not maintaining it.

Voters recognize this, and thus are always seeking to credit a coach for a great positive change that isn’t due to obvious new advantages in player talent on the team.  In other words, the COY in any given year is probably the guy whose team was considered least likely to achieve the success they did.  This makes predicting the COY winner about the most brutal prediction you can try to do because the ideal COY candidate is someone whose candidacy was completely unpredictable.

I’m going to split the difference here with my prediction.  I’m expecting a strong year from the Utah Jazz despite the loss of Boozer, and I think that turnover will be enough to shine some light on the job done by Jerry Sloan.  Also working into Sloan’s favor will be the fact that he’s already considered a legend, he has more tenure than any other coach in the league by a country mile, and he’s never won the award before.  It won’t work out if for him if a true ideal candidate really emerges, but here’s hoping he finally get this recognition we all know he deserves.

Written by Matt Johnson

October 26, 2010 at 8:48 pm

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