To some, this season’s coach of the year race is a landslide, but to others, it’s not as definite as you’d think. One coach took a talented team and used his extraordinary defensive knowledge to propel them to another level, not yet seen, and the other brought a team back from the depths of a hellacious, losing season.
The Chicago Bulls’ coach, Tom Thibodeau, is what you’d call a defensive specialist in the coaching world. His schemes helped the Boston Celtics become such a dominant defensive team to go along with their terrifying threats on offense.
Last season, the Chicago Bulls were only 41-41. They seemed to be a playoff team, but with no chance of advancing far. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced the Bulls in five games, and during the offseason, the front office made sure that more successes would be seen in the 2010-11 season.
They bit off a chunk of the 2009-10, Utah Jazz roster, by bringing Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver to Chicago during the offseason. And then Tom Thibodeau came, replacing Vinny Del Negro. This season, the Bulls are the best in the eastern conference, only one year after finishing the season with a .500 record.
Philadelphia has seen some improvements this year as well, thanks to Doug Collins. Unlike the Chicago Bulls, the 76ers didn’t see much of an improvement in their roster. They traded Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, acquired Craig Brackins from the New Orleans Hornets and drafted Evan Turner with the second-overall pick.
Collins took over a team that went 27-55 the previous year, and right now, the Sixers have won 41 games to go along with 39 losses, with only two competitions remaining before the playoffs. If you were to tell a 76ers fan that their team would be in the playoffs this year, one season after stinking up the east coast, they’d either smack you on the cheek or check you into an insane asylum.
Truthfully, the fact that the Sixers currently have 14 more wins than they did last year is insane. With two home games remaining, it’s quite possible that they could finish the year with a 16-win improvement. Either Eddie Jordan did a horrific job, or Doug Collins is a master at his craft. I’m going to take the easy way out and go with both.
This may be one of the toughest decisions to make in recent history. So, who is it? Is it a man who took over an already talented team, along with an offseason of overall improvement, or does it go to the one who turned the joke of the NBA into a dead-serious playoff team.
Here’s what NBA legend, Magic Johnson had to say on Twitter:
Rarely do I change my mind, but Tom Thibodeau has inspired me to do so. I think he is the Coach of the Year.—
Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 10, 2011
Personally, I believe that Thibodeau is going to win the award as well, but I won’t be surprised if Collins takes home the hardware. This decision is a tough one, and quite honestly, there’s no wrong choice.