Unlike this year’s NBA playoff bracket, where both 8-seeds are legitimately feisty and each conference has up to four teams that could realistically make the Finals, the NBA awards season is turning out to be pretty predictable.
Wire-to-wire favorite Dwight Howard won Defensive Player of the Year in a landslide, LeBron James is expected to similarly dominate MVP voting, Tyreke Evans is pretty much a lock for Rookie of the Year — and today Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks was named Coach of the Year.
After taking over the Thunder in the middle of last season, Brooks, former assistant of P.J. Carlesimo, has overseen a drastic improvement. The team won 50 games this year, 27 more than the previous season, as Kevin Durant blossomed into a superstar and Russell Westbrook became one of the League’s top young point guards.
While I still contend that Nate McMillan should have won Coach of the Year, Brooks was close to a guarantee as he fit the familiar criteria and OKC was a popular feel-good story all season.
Brooks got 71 out of 123 first-place votes. Milwaukee’s Scott Skiles finished second (26 first-place votes), followed by McMillan, Utah’s Jerry Sloan, Phoenix’s Alvin Gentry and Charlotte’s Larry Brown. Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy and Denver’s George Karl also received one first-place vote apiece. Houston’s Rick Adelman, a popular choice for C.O.Y. around midseason, finished eighth. Last year’s winner, Cleveland’s Mike Brown, only got two third-place votes.
* In other coaching news, Hornets GM/interim coach Jeff Bower will resume his position in the front office and leave the bench. That creates openings now in New Orleans, L.A. (Clippers), Philadelphia and New Jersey. And don’t be surprised if Chicago is looking for a new coach as soon as their playoff run is over.