Let’s face it. For all the talk about stability and commitment, most NBA franchises change coaches the way the rest of us change t-shirts — often and without even thinking twice.
But for a change, when the regular season begins in two months, for the first time in recent memory there will not be a single new coach roaming the sidelines. Uh-oh. You know what that means. Some will sink, some will swim and some will stand out from the pack.
So as our Summer Dreaming series continues, let’s take a bold leap to next April and have a look at the five candidates most likely to be filling our Coach of the Year ballot for 2017-18.
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
It is only a matter of time before the grinder Stevens wins the recognition that comes from the award. He and the Celtics have steadily climbed the ladder every year since he made the move to the NBA in 2013. He got them to the No. 1 seed in the East last season even though he had just one All-Star on his roster.
Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
Does he just make it look too easy by winning 67 games in the regular season? By cruising to a 16-1 postseason record and the Warriors’ second championship in three seasons? It seems he doesn’t even have to be there to wind up and make the Warriors go. For the second straight season, the effects of a back surgery that caused leakage of spinal fluid forced Kerr to turn the reins over to an assistant coach.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
You can’t have any list of top five coaches in the league without including the guy who is generally regarded by his peers as being the best of them all. Far more than just a grumpy face, Popovich keeps changing the focus of his offense in his never-ending run and churning out teams that are always in the championship conversation.
Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards
A perennially underachieving team wasn’t much different last season, except on the bench, where Brooks moved in to call the shots. He came off a stellar run in Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got all of the credit and he was regarded as a babysitter. He was always more than that and Brooks showed his stuff in getting John Wall and Bradley Beal to settle their differences and play together. He mixed in Markieff Morris with Marcin Gortat.
Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat
Perhaps the world should be excused for thinking those four consecutive trips to The NBA Finals (2011-14) and back-to-backchampionships were accomplished without anyone steering the ship. After all, the Miami lineup had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at its core and there was hardly anything left to do except roll out the balls. Right? But while Spoelstra understandably — and willingly — took a backseat to all of the star power reflected off the tinted windows in South Beach, there is now getting around the amazing job he did last season.