Five Coaches Who Are Getting It Done

There is a healthy Kevin Love back to hanging up double-doubles for the Timberwolves, Russell Westbrook repaired and reloaded again in the Thunder lineup, Paul George planting his flag firmly into the elite class and LeBron James — ho-hum — routinely churning out more MVP numbers.

The focus, of course, is usually on the players. But unlike those tiny delivery drones that Amazon.com might one day have dropping books and blenders out of the sky onto our doorsteps and heads, most NBA teams don’t fly themselves. So as we creep up on the quarter pole in the 2013-14 season, here are five coaches who have steered into early consideration for Coach of the Year:


VIDEO: Terry Stotts discusses Blazers’ big win over the Pacers

Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers — It’s always risky to make too much of a fast start. Just think back to a year ago at this time when so many gullible folks were lining up to buy tickets on the Knicks’ Fantasy Express. But the Blazers, while shooting 3s almost as much as those Knicks, could be in the mix more for the long haul because Stotts has them sharing the ball with an offensive style led by LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum that is a joy to watch at the same time that they’re paying more attention on defense. There are still miles to cover before they become stoppers. However, the defense that has been upgraded and anchored by Robin Lopez in the middle does a good job of guarding against the pick and roll while continuing to close out on long range shooters. A team that missed the playoffs the past two years and seemed to be in turmoil over the summer with rumors that Aldridge was looking to get out is suddenly the wildest of wild cards in the Western Conference race, sitting atop the list of heavy hitters as the No. 1 seed.


VIDEO: Frank Vogel talks about playing hungry and staying on course

Frank Vogel, Indiana — There have been all the knocks on the Pacers’ schedule through the first five weeks. Sunday’s opener of a five-game road trip against the Clippers was their first of the season against a team that currently has a winning record. Even with a loss at Portland, 16-2 is still 16-2. Vogel has not only forged an identity for his team as the league’s top and most rugged defensive club, but has driven home the point that every night and every game counts. The Pacers don’t want to play Game 7 of any playoff series on the road next spring and that means maintaining focus and consistency through the long regular season. Vogel’s got them giving up the lowest field goal percentage in the NBA to opponents, the fewest assists and are ranked second-best in 3-pointers attempted in a league that has become behind-the-arc crazy. The Jersey Boy has established a blue collar contender out of a black-and-blue style that is built to last.


VIDEO: Mike D’Antoni talks about the Lakers’ Dec. 1 loss to the Blazers

Mike D’Antoni, Lakers — What? We want to give recognition to a guy whose team ranks a thoroughly mediocre 16th in offense and 19th in defense and checks in with a smack-in-the-middle record of 9-9? You bet. Have you looked at the purple and gold roster and the way the favorite whipping boy of Laker lovers and haters has pushed and cajoled this team to keep its head above water while giving Kobe Bryant’s Achilles’ tendon a chance to recover? While the countdown clock is still ticking on the return of the Black Mamba to the lineup, it was not out of the question before the season began that the Lakers could have already been flattened and finished by now. Remember how ESPN ranked the Lakers 12th overall in the West? That was before Steve Nash went hobbling off again with back problems, before Jordan Farmar was sidelined. D’Antoni is getting it done by shuffling lineups with a leading scorer (Pau Gasol) averaging just 14.3 points a game, nine different players scoring at least eight and with the indiscriminate shooter Nick Young looking like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.


VIDEO: Steve Clifford comments on the Bobcats’ Nov. 29 win over the Bucks

Steve Clifford, Bobcats — What are we calling it for Michael Jordan — third time’s the charm? Or fourth? Or fifth? Can we finally stop counting the carcasses of Bobcats coaches now that Clifford has put a sense of organization, direction and purpose into the league’s perennial doormat? Did anybody think that five weeks into the season the Bobcats (8) would have as many wins as the Nets (5) and Knicks (3) combined? The long-time assistant coach waited almost forever to finally get his chance in the big chair and is relying on his two big guns inside and out in Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker at the offensive end, but making his mark with a no-nonsense approach that has Charlotte with the No. 4 ranked defense in the league.


VIDEO: Erik Spoelstra speaks with the media after Dec. 2 Heat practice

Erik Spoelstra, Heat — It’s just not as easy as it looks getting a team that has won back-to-back championships and made three straight trips to The Finals to come out with the hot fire and the right attitude every time out. That’s especially true when you’ve got to keep the condition of Dwyane Wade’s knees in the back of your mind at all times. But Spoelstra has this machine humming as the No. 1 rated offense that usually gets the shots that it wants, also leading the league in effective field goal percentage. The defensive bite is always there, creating mistakes, forcing turnovers and thriving in transition. He’s learned to live in the shadow of Wade, James and Chris Bosh and be the rudder that keeps guiding the Heat ahead as a quiet roaring force, if you will, and still the team to beat.

22 Comments

  1. RespectDC says:

    Why cant the Wizards get some love? We gonna show yall

  2. mike says:

    D’antoni”s O is not like a half court set… thats why his offense is looking good with the young legs…

  3. mike says:

    im giving credit to coach spoeltra.. but he did not outsmart coach pop last finals..
    it was pop’s mistake….

  4. okc2014 says:

    Scotty Brooks. And I have to agree w/D’Antoni as a choice. Don’t you find it ironic that the Lakers have a better winning record without Kobe, Howard, Nash and Gasol? That seems amusing to me. So does that mean they will be the NBA champs when Kobe returns (LOL)?

  5. kellogs says:

    hornacek 100% deserves some recognition.

  6. latigo spurs rapper says:

    no POP?

  7. Yes. says:

    Spoelstra..? Really? If anything, he should get credit for some of the sorry players on that roster (Chalmers, Cole, Battier) that would be benchwarmers on any other team in the league, but that can easily be credited to the presence of Lebron James on their roster… Jeff Hornacek on the other hand has done a fantastic job with Phoenix, Monty Williams turned an anemic offense club in NO into a powerhouse and Randy Wittman’s done a fantastic job after that horrible 2-7 start in Washington. Nice to see Clifford and D’Antoni get some recognition, considering the hands they were dealt.

  8. daemonicusdeep says:

    What about Pop? For all the Pop haters, just watch the play he drew up for Duncan against the Hawks last night..atrocious to leave Pop out..

  9. Buckdawg says:

    Spoelstra and no Hornacek? Wow. Sorry, but even a blind man’s dog could win with the Heat roster, how he gets half the credit he receives is beyond me.

    • Dont_be_a_hater says:

      I do agree that Hornacek should be mentioned but coach Spoelstra deserved the recognition. Many people think that by just having superstars in your team makes it a championship contender team. Look what happened to Lakers last year and the Nets this year. If you really know basketball, you would know that Spoelstra ‘out coached’ Vogel and Popovich last year that’s why they won. Leading your team to 3 straight NBA Finals is no joke.

      • LAKERSLAKERSLAKERS says:

        i agree that spolestra outcoached popovich. pop is the reason the spurs lost last year with his arrogance that any non-management coach would have been fired for years ago

  10. Mamba24 says:

    LBJKIN6JAMES you are a hater and you favorite player is a crying baby and a flopper who couldn’t win with his own team when they had the best record in league twice, The black mamba 5 champ and has some individual records that your Crying baby will never see

    • Kobe's back! Colorado Beware! says:

      Yea, all the hotel employee in Colorado will cry. Mamba’s back!

    • plasticHeat says:

      Mamba24 – Agree!

      Lakers have lost all but one of their close games, so they are def missing their best closer – Kobe Bean Bryant.

      they will play better with him

    • theking0522 says:

      He Mamba24..You want to talk about Crying baby? Look at Kobe!!! The whiner that always wants the foul calls. Every time somebody puts a finger on princess Bryant, he wants a foul and starts whining to the refs…BTW, like you said, Lebron lead a team with no superstars to the best record in the league twice. How many times has Kobe led the Lakers to the best record in the league without Shaq? Kobe is a whiner. Lebron is the KING!

    • jimi says:

      Who doesnt flop in the league now. Kobe is a great individual player and Lebron is a better team player. Everyone knows that. Lebron did have to go to another team to win championships. That part does look bad but he took less money and is taking less shots. Kobe just got a 48.5 million dollar deal for two years. He really didnt take the 70.5 million dollar cap seriously. Kobe could have a chance to win if the lakers had the cap space to sign two more really good players. But leave it to Kobe to show how selfish he truely is.

  11. SixerFanEU says:

    Agreed

  12. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    Lakers are playing better without Kobe, as soon as ballhog bean Bryant comes back they will start to lose again

  13. Sri says:

    Jeff Hornacek?

  14. steppx says:

    Dantoni but not Hornacek.? seriously??