Did Steve Kerr Deserve to Win NBA Coach of the Year Award?
By Ian Smith
Congratulations to Steve Kerr on winning NBA Coach of the Year. He was an important part of guiding the Golden State Warriors to an NBA record 73 wins. Unfortunately, he missed over half the season, and that’s a critical detail that seemed to be brushed aside by voters.
If the voters wanted to honor the accomplishment of the Warriors, then Kerr and Luke Walton should have shared this award. There isn’t much precedent for the type of situation the Warriors found themselves in due to Kerr’s illness, but the rules stated that any wins that Walton achieved while acting as the head coach would be credited to Kerr.
With the current way the rules are set up, Kerr deserves this award for earning more victories than any coach ever has during a regular season.
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If one wants to quibble over the protocol of how wins are credited, then by all means go ahead, because it seems like a dumb rule. Walton was the head coach for the first half of the season, and he deserves to be ascribed those victories he earned.
Your personal stance on the rule probably dictates whether you think Kerr deserves to win this award. If you have no problem with Kerr getting credit for Walton’s wins, then his Coach of the Year legitimacy can’t be debated.
However, if you believe Walton should have gotten credit for the wins he achieved as acting head coach, then the voters’ decision today to award Kerr this honor lacks logic.
If a player misses over half the season, he basically eliminates himself from contention in any end-of-season award due to the lack of sufficient time to prove worthiness. Stephen Curry would not have won MVP last season if he had missed the first half of the year, no matter how impressive the Warriors were playing without him.
Gregg Popovich and Terry Stotts were both present for their teams’ entire seasons. Popovich lead the Spurs to a historically impressive 67 wins, and Stotts guided the Trail Blazers to a playoff appearance after the loss of 4 starters in the offseason and in what was expected to be a rebuilding year.
These two phenomenal coaches merit sole possession of this award more than Kerr does. This isn’t a slight to Kerr; he’s a fantastic coach, but the fact that he wasn’t present for over half the season can’t be ignored.
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An exception could have been made to make Kerr and Walton co-winners, which would not have been scoffed at. But making Kerr the unitary recipient of this award doesn’t make much sense.