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Your top three candidates for NBA Coach of the Year?
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Steve Aschburner: Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Indiana’s Nate McMillan, possibly in that order. Casey has helped to reinvent the Raptors after another disappointing playoff exit last spring and a summer in which his boss Masai Ujiri issued a somewhat ominous call for a “change in culture.” Now Toronto has its best shot ever at The Finals. Stevens and his Celtics could have had their season yanked from under them in Game 1 when Gordon Hayward went down. Instead, Boston dominated early, turned massive personnel changes into all positives and still looms as a top East contender. And let’s be honest, most folks expected the Pacers to whimper into lotteryland after the Paul George trade. Instead, this has been a bright, happy season in Indiana, with Victor Oladipo as a top Kia Most Improved Player candidate and a record better than George’s OKC team.
Tas Melas: 1. Dwane Casey. 2. Nate McMillan. 3. Brett Brown. Casey got multiple-time All-Stars to buy in to a new style of play. I thought it was unthinkable. That’s real coaching right there, and the bench’s success just puts it over the top. McMillan’s team has surprised and he probably receives the least recognition of any playoff coach, so let’s give him some here. Brown deserves a heck of a lot more than this acknowledgment for coming to work every day with a smile over the last few seasons. He has been a model of consistency in a consistently painful environment.
Shaun Powell: My choice by a large margin is Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors. I love how he has adapted and evolved his system to fit the needs of his players, and how the bench has developed. No. 2 is Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers -- I'm surprised his name hasn't come up much in this conversation. He's doing wonders for a team that lost Paul George and in preseason was targeted for last place in the East. No. 3 is Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers. He may not make the playoffs, but the Clippers lost Chris Paul, traded Blake Griffin, dealt with injuries all season ... and they're still in postseason contention.
John Schuhmann: 1. Dwane Casey. The Toronto Raptors are the only team that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They've changed their offense, have actually been more improved on defense, and altered their rotation (no longer keeping either Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan on the floor at all times, even after losing their two most reliable reserves of the last couple of seasons), with terrific results. 2. Brad Stevens. The Boston Celtics have the league's No. 1 defense and its fourth best record, having lost an All-Star to injury in the first six minutes of the season and with four first or second-year players in the rotation. 3. Mike D'Antoni. Daryl Morey obviously did a terrific job in the offseason, but D'Antoni is the architect what's happening on the floor. He was the Coach of the Year last season and the Houston Rockets have been improved on both offense and defense.
Sekou Smith: Dwane Casey is my frontrunner for Coach of the Year. It's not often you see a coach with his seasoning and stature scrap what's been working and completely revamp his offense. Casey has always been a defensive mastermind, but to do what he's done on the other side of the floor has been simply tremendous for a team that could very well end up as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And Masai Ujiri should be at the top of your Executive of the Year list, too. Brad Stevens has worked wonders in Boston for some time now. And he's the second name on my list. Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan are tied for the third spot, and I'd go with the guy whose team finishes with more wins this season. They're doing excellent work under trying circumstances (you see what you can put together when you lose talent like DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, respectively).