Fear not, Brad Stevens zealots.
Unlike the NBA’s 30 coaches (who submitted only one name each), some of the the 100-ish voting media members (who had three ranked spots on each of their ballots) chose Stevens as their Coach of the Year.
The Celtics coach is one of three finalists for the more-prestigious award:
- Brad Stevens (Celtics)
- Dwane Casey (Raptors)
- Quin Snyder (Jazz)
The Raptors, of course, fired Casey after they stumbled in the playoffs yet again. But Casey did a fantastic job in the regular season – guiding Toronto to a franchise-record 59 wins, revamping the offense and empowering the bench. His peers gave him their version of this award. If Casey wins the more-official Coach of the Year on June 25 while unemployed or working elsewhere, it could make for an awkward moment.
Stevens is also a strong contender for the award. He did an excellent job keeping the injury-riddled Celtics humming. Keeping it up deep into the playoffs is even more impressive, but this is a regular-season award.
Snyder did a tremendous job keeping Utah humming after Gordon Hayward left, the team started slow and Rudy Gobert got hurt. Many teams would have thrown in the towel. The Jazz rallied to make the playoffs, with Snyder’s smart X-and-O work helping the cause.
There are many tough cuts here – Mike D’Antoni (Rockets), Gregg Popovich (Spurs), Doc Rivers (Clippers), Nate McMillan (Pacers), Terry Stotts (Trail Blazers), Brett Brown (76ers). It was a crowded race, and assessing coaching – especially from the outside – is difficult. The only wrong choice is insisting one of the omitted coaches was unquestionably better than Stevens, Casey or Snyder.