The Westfield Voice

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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

NBA COY Predictions

The 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year award recipient, Dwayne Casey, finds himself on a new team this year after being fired from the Toronto Raptors despite an elite season court side. It is rare across all sports for anyone to be let go immediately after winning an award for a job well done, though both Casey and the Raptors should benefit from the split.

Toronto has finally undergone a major shakeup, upgrading its’ superstar for an MVP candidate and dropping the coach that could never seem to advance his team past the juggernaut that is playoffs Lebron James. Casey, on the other hand, starts anew at the helm of the Detroit Pistons, who are in desperate need of a strategic makeover from coach Stan van Gundy’s system.

Casey can bring the consistent improvement that was a hallmark of his Toronto success to Detroit. If he can extract a playoff appearance from a team that has superstar talent with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, expect him to top many COY lists.

Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer is another accomplished coach who is entering the first year of his relocation to America’s Midwest. The Bucks newly minted strategist left an Atlanta Hawks team that had little talent and joined forces with surefire MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.

A disciple of NBA coaching legend Gregg Popovich, Budenholzer made a name for himself in Atlanta by installing a system with versatile defenders and shooters at every position, following the trend set by Golden State.

They didn’t have the top end talent or youth to sustain the success Budenholzer had early in his Atlanta tenure. Now with a true superstar in Giannis and excellent pieces in Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee should climb the Eastern Conference standings and Budenholzer will return to the conversation of best coach in the league.

Boston’s Brad Stevens has accumulated an excellent resume since taking over a rebuilding team six years ago. Five trips to the playoffs, two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, attracting quality free agents, and steady win improvement every season, Stevens has been in the running for COY for the past few seasons. Assuming Boston keeps pace and does not underperform expectations, expect Stevens to return to his rightful place as a lynchpin in the best coach in the league conversation.

Out in the Western conference, Golden State’s Steve Kerr is an obvious candidate for COY. His team is the smart choice for best team in the standings, will have the most all-stars, will play quality defense and outscore opponents by a high margin if their past success is any indicator on the upcoming season.

Kerr’s real challenge this season will be juggling egos and playing time between five players that are some of the league’s best at each of their positions, three of them have played the longest seasons the past four years.

Houston has had enormous success under Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. His system that prioritizes 3-point shooting over everything else has made them a force to reckon with and his team pushed the Kevin Durant-Warriors further than anybody else has accomplished.

With huge amounts of talent on his roster, like Kerr, D’Antoni’s real challenge this season will be keeping everybody fresh for the playoffs as well as integrating newly acquired Carmelo Anthony and his antiquated game into his hyper modern offense.

To round out the early front runners for COY, Utah’s Quinn Snyder should garner the same level of respect as the aforementioned tacticians. Since he’s taken over for Utah, Snyder’s defense has been consistently elite, smothering everybody last year, coming in as the second ranked unit behind Boston.

Also, Snyder’s egalitarian offense has served them well, garnering back to back appearances in the playoffs and facilitating the breakout of Donovan Mitchell. If they continue the trend for steady improvement, Snyder will be impossible to ignore.

COY, like most awards, is as much about the story as it is accomplishments. Predictions for the highest vote getters are Mike Budenholzer, who should win the award if his system turns Milwaukee into the force they should be, with Stevens and Snyder hot on his heels in a tight race for votes.

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