The National Basketball Coaches Association — made up of all 30 NBA coaches — cast their ballots, and Toronto’s Dwane Casey was named Coach of the Year. A good choice, the Raptors revamped their culture and offense, then went on to win a franchise-record 59 games.
What caught everyone’s attention was who didn’t get a vote: Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.
Brett Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Quin Snyder and Terry Stotts each got at least one vote, but not Stevens.
Celtics fans took that about as well as you’d imagine.
Among those taken aback, former Celtic Isaiah Thomas.
Why no love for Stevens? It is a little odd, but take off your tin foil hats, there is no conspiracy. Sorry Mulder, there is no grand plan to keep Boston down. It was likely a combination of four factors:
1) The coaches each only get one vote. When the NBA’s official Coach of the Year voting is released after the June 25 televised awards ceremony, you will see those media members who got to vote had to give their top three choices for the award. I imagine if asked to name three coaches, Stevens would have been on many if not most ballots, but other coaches did not give him the top spot, and that’s all they were asked to do.
2) It’s an incredibly deep pool of coaches. This was the hardest award to vote for this year because one could make a very legitimate case for a lot of guys. Popovich coached up an injured team, too. Quin Snyder’s Jazz were the most resilient team in the NBA and had smart sets to go with Donovan Mitchell. Nate McMillan’s Pacers were supposed to be in the lottery. The point is, there’s a lot of qualified coaches and the guys voting only got to vote for one.
3) Brad Stevens is not a great self-promoter. Not that any of these guys were out campaigning for the award, but Stevens isn’t one to draw attention to himself.
4) The voting was before the playoffs. While Stevens did an amazing regular season coaching job, a lot of fans have seen the Celtics over-achieve in the postseason and now are incensed that the other NBA coaches didn’t recognize Steven’s greatness. However, I bet a lot of those fans, if given one vote before the playoffs started, would have chosen a different coach.