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Coach of the Year
- Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks continue to roll, as they hold the longest winning streak (4 games) in the Eastern Conference. Admittedly, the schedule is ratcheted up a bit this week, with Atlanta hosting Houston and Cleveland, but the Hawks may already be shifting toward playoff preparations. Make no mistake, there is real talent on this roster, but Budenholzer’s work to lift that talent without the benefit of a top-10 player has been incredibly impressive.
- Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors – Don’t look now, but the Warriors are experiencing some mild adversity. Golden State has been head-and-shoulders better than anyone in the league this season from a net rating standpoint, but the Warriors have lost three of their last six games, and Kerr will have his first opportunity to snap a team out of a mediocre run. There is no denying the coach’s impact on this team, especially offensively, and even with a “cooling off” period, his performance is worthy of inclusion.
- Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers – The competition is wide open for the this third position, but Stotts deserves a great deal of praise. Portland sits with a 39-19 record despite an injury to Robin Lopez and a disastrous downturn from Nic Batum, and Stotts has been able to effectively deploy his talent to make up for perceived weaknesses. The addition of Arron Afflalo is big for the Blazers, but Stotts has already done yeoman’s work with his crew, especially with regard to a vast improvement on the defensive end this season.
Next: Most Improved Player