Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Brad Stevens
- NBA guru Matt Moore makes a series of predictions for the 2018-19 season.
- Up next: Why Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is primed to win Coach of the Year.
I was stunned when the results of last season’s Coach of the Year vote came back and Dwane Casey got the nod.
I cannot tell you how much the media loves Brad Stevens, despite that vote. Stevens is by far the most popular coach among media with whom I’ve spoken. He’s credited as the reason behind Boston’s success over the past three seasons, far more than the roster — which, at times, has elicited scoffs and smirks.
So when Stevens didn’t win the award in 2017-18, I was stunned. It made me realize that while MVP is evolving beyond “best player on best team,” COY is still very much all about wins, and wins only.
Casey won more games, so Casey won Coach of the Year.
And honestly, I don’t mind it. People forget how bad the Celtics’ offense was last season, finishing in the bottom 15. While everyone continued to “ooh” and “aah” about Stevens’ out-of-bound sets, the Celtics were still a dismal offensive team even before Kyrie Irving went down.
Sure, losing Gordon Hayward hurt a lot, but it didn’t change the limitations. The Celtics also had a performance level that was a lot closer to 50 wins than the Raptors’ 59-23 record.
I understood that. I was just shocked.
I was shocked because Stevens is a candidate the voters want to vote for. He’s friendly to the media without being too much so. He’s never self-serving, always deflecting credit and admitting blame. His play design is always really smart. He coaches of one of the most popular and historically great franchises in the league, with a healthy media contingent in the area.
He’s also a legitimately great coach.
This season? The standard should be for Stevens to win COY.
If the argument in his favor last season — to which I ultimately came around — was how he succeeded despite losing talent to injury; this season the Celtics have that talent. Toronto will be good again, no doubt, but Boston is better all the way through.
The Celtics have Hayward and Irving back. Stevens has also created an environment that — in games such as Tuesday night’s season opener, when Irving is struggling — enables him to use lineups without his star point guard to close and still have full buy-in.
How do you manage egos when you have this much talent? You put the work in before to create an environment in which everyone is committed to sacrifice.
The Celtics should finish with more than 60 wins, the No. 1 seed and be considered the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. Along with the fact that there is often a carryover effect from the previous season for these awards, I feel confident that Stevens will win the 2018-19 Coach of the Year Award.
Prediction: Brad Stevens wins Coach of the Year.