Jan 23, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum (88) and head coach Terry Stotts talk in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Rapid Reaction: Terry Stotts 6th in Coach of the Year Voting


 

Yesterday, it was announced that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had been voted Coach of the Year for the 2013-2014 NBA season. Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts finished a surprisingly low sixth place in the voting. Now, while I’ve been overall pleased with what Stotts has accomplished this season, does he deserve to win Coach of the Year? Probably not. Does he deserve better than sixth in the polls? I’d say so, but there were many excellent candidates this year.

 

2013-14 NBA COACH OF THE YEAR RESULTS

Coach, Team

First

Second

Third

Points

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio

59

23

16

380

Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix

37

44

22

339

Tom Thibadeau, Chicago

12

22

33

159

Steve Clifford, Charlotte

8

21

24

127

Dwane Casey, Toronto

5

9

18

70

Terry Stotts, Portland

2

3

6

25

Doc Rivers,
L.A. Clippers

1

2

2

13

Scott Brooks, Okalhoma City

0

0

1

1

Mark Jackson, Golden State

0

0

1

1

Jason Kidd, Brooklyn

0

0

1

1

First place vote = 5 points, second place vote = 3 points, third place vote = 1 point

 

I’m usually of the opinion that Popovich deserves the award, because he usually does. However; I believe that if the Phoenix Suns had managed a playoff spot, Hornacek would be taking this one home. Those are the only two coaches among those who received votes that I would confidently place in front of Stotts. Thibadeau impressed by succeeding without Derrick Rose once again (Luol Deng too), so I guess he and Stotts share a tier in my books.

The same cannot be said for Clifford and Casey. They did reasonably well this season, but not ‘legitimate Coach of the Year consideration’ well. While the Bobcats improved their record by an astonishing 22 wins from last year, I don’t think Clifford had much to do with it outside of simply not messing up. Charlotte scrapped their way to a 7th seed in a historically weak Eastern Conference, largely on the back of their best player (Al Jefferson) who was acquired during the offseason. Meanwhile, in Toronto, fans were calling for Casey’s job while the Raptors struggled to hit 6-12 before the Rudy Gay trade.

That’s not to say that Stotts didn’t have his share of help from management. A large portion of the Trail Blazers success this season can be attributed to moves made by General Manager Neil Olshey; Stotts just managed to do a little bit more than some with a little less assistance. A team does not just walk into a mid-range seed in the historically strong Western Conference without either an authoritative coaching presence or an 8-time all-star center bought and paid for.

Outside of steady role player Robin Lopez, the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup hasn’t changed a bit, but their record has. They improved by 21 wins from last season in frequent matchups with the toughest competition. This leap from 33-49 to 54-28 represents the largest single-season improvement in franchise history. It also gave the Trail Blazers their first playoff berth since Brandon Roy.

There is no shame in Stotts coming in sixth; especially since anything after first does not matter (some would say even first does not). Stotts was a victim of collective short-term memory. Portland’s scorching hot start to the season earned him Coach of the Month… for November, but the Trail Blazers’ mid-season plateau paled in comparison on the “What have you done for me lately?” meter.

So here’s the deal. Stotts was not robbed, nor was he completely neglected; he was marginally undervalued. I think most fans feel that way about their coaches/players/teams when it comes to doling out awards. Yeah, Stotts was probably a better candidate than some of those above him on the ballot, but he gave us a terrific season, which is much more important.

 

 

Tags: Coach Of The Year Gregg Popovich Jeff Hornacek Portland Trail Blazers Terry Stotts