NBA Coach of the Year: 5 Early Frontrunners for the 2018-19 Season
- A look at the 5 coaches who are likeliest to win the award next June, as things stand today.
Last year's Coach of the Year award was given to a coach who was already a month removed from being fired by his previous franchise. But he'd already been re-hired by a different team at that point, making it an easier pill to swallow for Dwane Casey. He did deserve the award for the most part, but now he has the unenviable task of leading the Detroit Pistons and their salary-capped roster to a playoff appearance.
This rules him out of contention in our early-season sweepstakes for the Coach of the Year award for the 2018-19 season. Ever since the award was instituted, moreover, no coach has won it in back-to-back seasons.
Among the coaches we looked at, Luke Walton is likely to be overshadowed in success by the looming figure of the 6'8", 260-pound monster who also happens to be a basketball savant and the best player in the world. Gregg Popovich should always be in the mix, but it seems the voters have had enough of him, as proved by last year's results when he was deservedly still in the race.
However, a number of coaches have wound up in pretty good circumstances, and are ahead of him in the running as of now. Let's take a look at the 5 coaches who are likeliest to win the award next June, as things stand today:
#5 Brett Brown
Brett Brown has come a long way from leading a team on the worst 4-year run in league history to now being interim GM and head coach for a 52-win team. Much of the progress the Sixers made last year can be attributed to having Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons fit and available for the majority of the year, although the Cameroonian has openly voiced his frustration at having to sit out the second legs of back-to-back games (as he did for the length of the 2017-18 season).
Both franchise cornerstones are likely to make big strides on both ends of the floor. If at all Ben Simmons is able to construct a semblance of a jump shot, defenses will have to guard him in a whole different fashion, complicating their task.
One of the things that will hit the Sixers hard is how they let Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova walk to other teams. Both of them were pivotal to the 16-game winning streak the Sixers put together at the end of last season, and could have been veteran contributors on the team if only they'd been offered deals giving them what they're worth.
But amidst news emerging that 2017 #1 pick Markelle Fultz was able to reconstruct his jumpshot over the summer, the Sixers may already have solved the problem of bench scoring in-house. Wilson Chandler was acquired from the Nuggets, and he should be a valuable 3-and-D addition.
Rookie Zhaire Smith could also have a big role to play for the Sixers this coming season, as his athleticism and ability to make plays will be a huge plus for their bench unit.
At this point, Brown is definitely a dark horse contender, but the Sixers have shown enough potential as a unit to be able to put together another season of progress.