There are several great candidates for the Coach of the Year award this season. Doug Collins, Phil Jackson, George Karl, Nate McMillan, Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau all deserve recognition for the job they’ve done with their teams.
Jackson and Karl have made their strongest case with how well L.A. and Denver have played since the All-Star break. And for Karl, we have to look back at how he well he kept the Nuggets together in the midst of the ‘Melo-drama that ran from September to February.
Dealing with the knowledge that his best player wanted to play for someone else and somehow putting together a 32-25 record in the midst of a media circus is the intangible aspect of Karl’s candidacy. But there is a very tangible aspect to it to, and the numbers may make the best case for Karl.
With the Nuggets original roster, Karl coached the No. 1 offense in the league. With a completely different kind of roster since the trade, Karl is coaching the No. 1 defense in the league.
|Timeframe||Record||Off. Eff.||Rank||Def. Eff.||Rank||Diff.||Rank|
Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions
The numbers obviously say something about Anthony and the other players involved in the trade. And maybe just as impressive as the Nuggets’ No. 1 ranking defensively since the trade is that they’ve been almost as efficient offensively as they were with the guy that was averaging 25 points per game.
There aren’t many teams in this league that can play at an elite level on both ends of the floor. The Miami Heat are the only team that ranks in the top five both offensively (109.3, second) and defensively (100.9, fifth) for the season.
Along with the Heat and Nuggets, the Lakers have ranked in the top five on one end of the floor before the All-Star break and on the other end of the floor since. L.A. was the fourth-best offensive team (108.6) before the break and has been the third-best defensive team (97.8) since.
But those numbers don’t match the Nuggets’ impressive transition from elite offensive team to elite defensive team. And that may be why George Karl deserves to be named Coach of the Year.