No one seriously expected the San Antonio Spurs to be where they are right now. They’re sitting at 37-14, two games behind the Thunder in the West and a serious contender for the NBA Finals. They’ve fought through injuries and a tough schedule that is no doubt wearing on an aging Tim Duncan to quiet the haters once again.
A huge part of their success is thanks to head coach Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop continues to win, no matter what the odds. So where does this put him in terms of the Coach of the Year race?
Pop does it year in and year out. He deserves to be at the top of the ballot every season, and yet he’s only been coach of the year once. It seems like there’s always a more popular pick, and this year is no different.
It’s tough to pick the guy with the fourth best record in the NBA for coach of the year, no matter how much adversity he’s overcome, but you can pick the guy with the best record who has overcome just as much. Tom Thibodeau is crushing it in Chicago. His team has played without NBA MVP Derrick Rose for a good chunk of the season and they’ve lost several other supporting cast members to injury as well and they’re still sitting with the best record in the league. The Bulls are going to give Miami a solid run in the playoffs, when most people thought the Heat would be a lock for the Finals. Thibs easily gets my vote.
In my mind, Pop comes in second, maybe slightly ahead of Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks. Brooks has brought that young Thunder team so far in just a couple of years, it’s unbelievable. But he got rewarded for that progress last season by winning Coach of the Year, and honestly he’s done what’s been expected of him this year. The Thunder have stayed healthy and reached everyone’s very high preseason expectations. And then there’s Erik Spoelstra in Miami, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t do that much coaching.
So it’s a two-man race between Popovich and Thibodeau in my mind. I give the edge to Thibs right now, but if the Bulls were to tank the end of the season, and the Spurs were to pass the Thunder, then we’ll have a different conversation. Either way, what Pop has done here in San Antonio this season and in all his previous years is amazing. Everyone knows he’s one of the greatest coaches of all time, he doesn’t need an award to prove it.