The NBA is all about name and face recognition. This was never more evident than yesterday when Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was named 2016 Coach of the Year. That’s not to say Kerr wasn’t deserving. The Warriors won more games in a season than anyone in the NBA ever has. However, Kerr coached in 39 of the team’s 82 games. Assistant coach Luke Walton coached the first 43 games as Kerr recovered from having off-season back surgery. That’s more than half the games. You could make the argument Walton should be coach of the year. Ok. Maybe, that’s going a bit too far. However, the Warriors record was actually better under Walton (39-4) vs Kerr’s record of 34-5. The numbers don’t lie.
If you’re not convinced by those numbers. Try these on for size. How about a coach and team that lost four of five starters from last season. Let me say that again: This team lost four out of five STARTERS. Not just players on the roster. Starters. And that same team and coach are still alive in the playoffs. That team is the Portland Trailblazers and that coach is Terry Stotts.
It would have been acceptable if this team didn’t even sniff the playoffs this season. With Damian Lillard being the only returning starter, NO one saw them winning more than 20 – 25 games. But a playoff team they are. Not only did they make the playoffs. They’re the 5th seed. They’re the youngest team in the playoffs and they didn’t back in like the underachieving and supposedly more talented Houston Rockets. Stotts, has this team playing hard and they are a helluva lot of fun to watch. And now, with the Chris Paul and Blake Griffin injuries, they have a real shot to advance to the 2nd round.
Lillard, along with back court mate and Most Improved Player of the Year Award winner CJ McCollum are fast becoming one of the most lethal guard tandems in the NBA. They also blew out the Warriors 137-105 in a game earlier in the season. Easily the Dubs worst loss of the season.
So, while Kerr is obviously very deserving. Even he has to realize the accomplishment Stotts and the Blazers have made this season. While, winning 73 games is unreal, the Warriors won 67 last season. Not really a big jump as crazy as that may sound. Then again, this is no fault of Kerr’s. This falls completely on the NBA. The Warriors are already the leagues most recognizable team with the most recognizable players. These Blazers and head coach Terry Stotts deserve a little recognition also.