2016 PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Kurt Helin

1. Gregg Popovich

2. Terry Stotts

3. Steve Clifford

Yes, Luke Walton/Steve Kerr led the Warriors to a record, but I can only vote for one per NBA rules and Kerr missed too much time for me to give him the award (as with Manu Ginobili for Sixth Man). Popovich had to integrate LaMarcus Aldridge and re-invent the Spurs style for the seeming 743rd time, and they won a franchise record number of games. He’s the best coach in the game and he had one of his best years.

Sean Highkin

1. Steve Kerr

2. Gregg Popovich

3. Terry Stotts

Ideally, I could give this award to Kerr and Luke Walton as a duo, but league rules won’t allow it. Even though Walton coached the team for their unprecedented start to the year, it was Kerr that established the culture that allowed them to do so well with him out the first chunk of the season, and he was still involved behind the scenes while Walton was the interim coach.

Dan Feldman

1. Terry Stotts

2. Gregg Popovich

3. Steve Clifford

There was a point I couldn’t imagine leaving Rick Carlisle off this list. Getting the Mavericks – who most, myself included, wrote off when DeAndre Jordan defected – into the playoffs was pure wizardry. But this was a strong coaching season at the top.

Stotts got a whole new group playing well very quickly. As we’ve seen with LeBron James in Miami and then Cleveland, there are usually more setbacks when integrating a star. Popovich made it look seamless with LaMarcus Aldridge. Clifford kept a team full of players on expiring contracts focused, maintaining a high defensive level while reinventing the offense to become more dynamic.

And I didn’t even get to Brad Stevens, who pushed the right buttons on a deep and middle-heavy Celtics.

Not strongly considered: Steve Kerr, who missed half the season. You can’t do more in a half a season than Stotts, Popovich and Clifford did the entire year.