Gregg Popovich is one of the NBA’s best head coaches. That statement was reaffirmed this season as the San Antonio Spurs head coach was named coach of the year for the third time in his career, the second in the past three NBA seasons.
As Gregg Popovich heads into his 19th head coaching season, the question surrounding Pop is whether the Spurs coach can repeat as NBA Coach of the Year.
We take a look at NBA Coach of the Year history and many other factors to see if in fact Popovich can repeat as coach of the year.
Gregg Popovich and the NBA Coach of the Year Award History
Since the coach of the year award was introduced in the 1962-1963 NBA season, 42 different head coaches have won the award. Out of those 42 head coaches, only seven coaches have won the award twice.
An even smaller number of head coaches have won the award three times. The only head coaches to win NBA Coach of the Year three times are Don Nelson, Pat Riley, and Gregg Popovich.
If you’re paying attention, yes, that does mean even the 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson did not make it to this exclusive list (only a one time winner).
Pop is the most recent addition to this elite coaching group, becoming a member after winning the 2013-2014 NBA Coach of the Year Award.
Out of these three head coaches, none of them have ever won back to back coach of the year awards. You read that right, none of them.
The closest anyone has ever gotten to winning back to back NBA Coach of the Year Awards is the San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich who had a one year gap in between his second and third coach of the year awards.
Now it may seem that it is nearly impossible for Gregg Popovich to repeat as coach of the year but the odds are actually not as stacked against Pop as it appears.
Since the 1996-1997 NBA season, when Pop first started his Spurs head coaching gig, only three coaches have won the award without 50-plus win seasons. That number would most likely be two had it not been for the 1998-1999 lockout shortened NBA season.
The formula for success becomes even easier when you consider that 13 of the 18 coach of the year awards during Gregg Popovich’s career as San Antonio Spurs head coach have been handed out to coaches whose teams have finished with a top five record in the league.
Gregg Popovich seems to have everything going for him, the great team, the league support, and the coach of the year history.
Even more interesting is the fact that everytime Pop has won the award, his team has either finished first or tied for first in the overall league standings.
Winning obviously is the main factor in the deciding the recipient of the award but what are Gregg Popovich’s chances of winning the award again this season? Does he have the team that is capable of grabbing the top spot in the conference?
This Year’s San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are bringing back 14 of the 15 players that won the NBA title last season. This essentially means that the same Spurs unit that won the title last year will be back, the only difference being that the team is a year older.
With San Antonio bringing back much of the talent from last season, many NBA experts consider the Spurs to finish with one of the best records in the NBA and one of the top seeds in the Western Conference.
NBA fans would be foolish to think this year’s Spurs team cannot win 50-plus games, especially with all the talent San Antonio has and the marvelous job Gregg Popovich does as a head coach.
The Spurs also have a golden opportunity in the Kevin Durant injury. With Durant out for about the first month of the regular season, San Antonio can take an early lead in the West.
Although it is never good to assume, it can be stated with strong confidence that the Spurs will finish in the top-three if not the top-two in the West. Combined with the fact that the East is a weaker conference, there should be no issue with San Antonio finishing in the top five in the league.
NBA General Manger’s Agree Gregg Popovich is the League’s Best Coach
Even the NBA’s General Manager’s agree Gregg Popovich is the best head coach in the NBA. In the recent NBA GM survey, Pop was voted the best coach in the NBA, drawing 92.9% of the votes.
That percentage seems even more impressive when you compare it to the 75.9% of the votes Gregg Popovich drew before the 2013-2014 season.
Pop certaintly has the accolades to draw such a large vote, especially considering he was just crowned NBA Coach of the Year.
This does not come as a surprise and just reaffirms the idea that Gregg Popovich is one the best coaches in the NBA and is a strong candidate to win his fourth ever coach of the year award.
While Gregg Popovich seems to have everything going for him, the great team, the league support, and the coach of the year history, do not expect Pop to repeat as NBA Coach of the Year.
Shocked about the conclusion? Let me explain.
It is well known that the sportswriters in charge of voting do not like to give awards to the same players or coaches year after year, even with outstanding efforts.
If you don’t believe me, just look back at that exclusive list of coaches that have won the award three times. Those three seasons that each of those coaches won the award were not their only good season.
Those coaches could have won four, five, maybe even six times but did not simply because the voters do not like giving the award to the same coach. If you still don’t agree with me, just look at the fact that Phil Jackson won the award only once in his head coaching career.
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My vote this year does go to Gregg Popovich as long as the Spurs finish in the top five in the league. However, if I had to pick someone other than Pop I would go with Monty Williams of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Williams is tied for the fifth longest tenured head coach in the NBA and has an up and coming team in the Pelicans. If New Orleans can play well in the upcoming season, Williams could definitely pick up the coach of the year award.
What do you think of Gregg Popovich’s chances to repeat as NBA Coach of the Year? Let us know in the comments!
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