Scotty Brooks. NBA coach of the year?
Don’t shrug it off. It could happen. Foreman Scotty is in the discussion at the midway point of the NBA season. Sports Illustrated’s panel of NBA writers recently listed their top three candidates for each major award. You can read the entire post here.
Chris Mannix and Ben Golliver each selected the Knickerbockers’ Mike Woodson. Rob Mahoney opted for the Warriors’ Mark Jackson. Ian Thomsen chose the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau. And Lee Jenkins took Brooks, who has the Thunder 33-10, with the NBA’s best record, despite the trade of James Harden a few days before the season opener.
Here’s the field as I see it:
1. Mark Jackson: Golden State has made the playoffs once since 1994, but the Warriors are 26-15 this season, good for fifth in the West.
2. Mike Woodson: He has the normally dysfunctional Knicks at 25-14, the second-best record in the East. New York has not played well of late, 4-6 in its last 10 games, so Woodson might have trouble keeping the Knicks at this level.
3. Tom Thibodeau: No Derrick Rose? No problem. Thibodeau has the Bulls 25-16, the fourth-best record in the East. Chicago will be a beast in the playoffs.
4. Scotty Brooks: The transition to Kevin Martin as ace sixth man has been largely seamless.
5. Frank Vogel: The Pacers are 26-17, good for fifth in the East, and has played a tough schedule. Indiana getting all the way to second in the East isn’t out of the question.
6. P.J. Carlesimo: Don’t laugh. The Netropolitans were 14-14 under Avery Johnson. But under the oft-maligned Carlesimo, Brooklyn is 12-2 and has become a force in the East. Can an interim coach win the award? If the answer is yes, P.J. zooms up this list.
7. Vinny Del Negro: Often discounted while coaching the Bulls and even the Clippers, Del Negro has led the Clippers to great heights all season. At 32-11, they are contenders for the best record in the league.
8. Terry Stotts: The Blazers looked to be mired in the lottery. Instead, Portland is 21-21 and fighting for a playoff berth.
9. Gregg Popovich: Sort of like LeBron James, the idea of not giving the award to Pop every year is really just humanitarian. He’s the NBA’s best coach, and the ageless Spurs are 34-11, right on the heels of OKC for the league’s best record.
10. Larry Drew: The Hawks traded away Joe Johnson and got better. Some could see that coming. But 24-18? Atlanta will not be an easy playoff out.