San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was not among the finalists for NBA Coach of the Year in 2017-18.
The San Antonio Spurs worked through adversity, from start to finish, in the 2017-18 NBA season. It featured injuries, the Kawhi Leonard saga and a LaMarcus Aldridge-led squad of players that did not flash but got the job done to make the postseason.
All of this was under head coach Gregg Popovich, who delivered arguably his best coaching job of the past 21 years. Without his star player and the need to rekindle a relationship with the No. 2 guy (Aldridge, who became the lead man), the five-time champion had to switch his starting lineups and adjust his rotation — sometimes on the fly — with constant injuries to his best players.
At the end of the season, Popovich’s Spurs finished with a 47-35 record — the franchise’s lowest mark since the 1996-97 campaign. So with the fewer number of wins, is it a surprise that he was left out of the NBA Coach of the Year finalists? The NBA revealed the three that will be up for the award in June:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 17, 2018
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The obvious elephant in the room is Dwane Casey, who the Toronto Raptors fired after the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Casey’s team was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Quin Snyder’s Utah Jazz lost Gordon Hayward in the 2017 offseason but eclipsed expectations to make the playoffs as the No. 5 seed. Some of that praise goes to Donovan Mitchell, who burst on the scene as a rookie.
Brad Stevens worked through the Hayward injury in the first game of the season, Kyrie Irving’s on-again, off-again injuries, and coached up youngsters, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Even though this award only takes the regular season into account, Stevens’ playoff work has been exceptional.
Did Popovich deserve a spot in the final three for NBA Coach of the Year? What does he need to do to be involved in the 2018-19 conversation?