While it is difficult to argue that anyone aside from Mike Budenholzer or Steve Kerr deserves to be named the Coach of the Year, I do believe that Jason Kidd should at least have his name mentioned in the conversation.
Like all of the other end of season awards, the NBA has never attempted to establish criteria or guidelines to sway those who vote on the awards, and I think that makes for a better process.
Specifically, as it relates to Most Valuable Player, some voters have taken the stance that they would never vote for a player who does not play for a winning team; yet, in conversations I have had with voters over the course of this season, some are making the case for Anthony Davis.
Coach of the Year is no exception. With no criteria, who are we to say that the coach that leads his team to the most wins deserves to win the award? That wasn’t the case back in 2013 when George Karl won the award despite leading the Denver Nuggets to just the fourth-best record in the league.
That year, Karl won the award because the voters collectively believed that he brought the Nuggets to a place they had no business being. The same argument can be made for Kidd and the admirable and capable way he has led the Milwaukee Bucks. That Kidd is a sophomore coach makes the feat impressive. That his Bucks have continued to thrive and that they have done so despite losing Jabari Parker… that is amazing.
The Bucks will enter play on March 14 at 34-31. In the end, they will likely end up winning somewhere in the neighborhood of 44 games. For a team that went just 15-67 last year, that is an impressive turnaround. When you consider that they managed to accomplish that without the player that they drafted after going 15-67, it really makes you stop and wonder: “How?”
Certainly, the progression of Giannis Antetokoumnpo and the overall excellent play of Brandon Knight had something to do with it. And since Knight was traded for Michael Carter-Williams back in February, the Bucks are getting increased production from the likes of Khris Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova. Certainly, the players deserve their fair share of credit, but in the NBA, without a capable head coach managing everything, pushing those players and getting them to buy into what he is selling, overachieving is impossible.
The recently fired Jacque Vaughn and those that oversaw his performance in Orlando would probably tell you just that.
We blame head coaches when things go awry or when teams underachieve, so to me, conversely, we should give a head coach “per se” credit when he defies odds and expectations and takes his team somewhere they had no business being.
If I had a vote for Coach of the Year, though I know I would probably be the only voter to cast a first-place vote for someone other than Kerr or Budenholzer, I would give that honor to Kidd.
I just think what he has done this season and the fact that his young Bucks still have a mathematical opportunity to be a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference is that impressive.
– Moke Hamilton