I mean come on. This is a joke right? Steve Kerr was named the 2016 NBA Coach of the Year today. That’s a little tough to swallow.
Obviously, it actually has nothing to do with Kerr’s coaching ability. He is a great coach. His personnel usage is incredible and he seems to have a close connection with his players.
Kerr missed half of the season though. Actually more than half if you want to get into specifics. Due to health concerns, Kerr missed the first 43 games of the season and Luke Walton coached in his place. The Warriors ended up winning a record 73-games this season, but Kerr’s record while coaching was 34-5. Walton’s was actually better at 39-4.
While the reason why Kerr missed half of the regular season games this season was out of his control, it does not mean that it should be forgotten that he missed all of those games. Kerr’s triumphs off the court were probably more important than anything Golden State did on the court this season and he should be honored and praised for that. Just not with the Coach of the Year Award.
In my opinion, there are two ways this could have gone instead that would have been much more acceptable. The first one would be if they named Kerr and Walton Co-Coaches of the Year. They each contributed pretty much evenly to the team’s success this season.
This would be somewhat similar to 2012, when Bruce Arians won the NFL’s Coach of the Year award, despite being the interim replacement for Chuck Pagano while the later missed most of the season for cancer treatment. Arians coached 12 of the team’s 16 games, so he received the award. Walton coached slightly more than half, but with the split being so close to even, I think it would be fair to have the two coaches share the award.
The other option would have been to give the award to the next deserving coach, in this case Gregg Popovich. Pop’s Spurs won 67 games this year, and he coached all of them. That comes in tied for seventh all time for most wins in a season.
Popovich rested his guys throughout the year and showed that, similar to Golden State, he knew how to manage his team. He played small ball, he went big. He played fast, he slowed it down. Pop can get his guys to do anything he wants.
In most other seasons, San Antonio would have finished with the best record in the league. In fact, the Spurs became the team with the most wins to not finish with the best record in the league this season. Usually, that would mean that the team with the best record had the best coaching. However, in this case, it was not just one coach. If the award is meant to go to an individual and cannot be shared, then it should have gone to Popovich.
I like Steve Kerr a lot and I am not trying to argue that he isn’t a great coach, but give me a break. There is no way he deserved to win this award. It should have gone to someone else.