Coach of the Year
Clippers won 47 games, the second highest total in franchise history ... Team qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1997 ... Won at least four games in a row five times ... Ranked second in the league in rebounds at 43.07 per game ... Led the league in blocks at 6.13 per game ... Ranked sixth in the league in field goal percentage at .465 and fifth in field goal defense at .435 ... Ranked second in the league in free throw percentage at .791.
L.A. is a town where glamour rules, so it's ironic that the most unglamorous part of basketball -- defense -- is what enabled the Clippers to pull out of a long rebuilding phase and shine of the City of Angels. The focus on defense can be credited to Mike Dunleavy, who molded a club that led the NBA in blocks per game (6.13 bpg), was second in rebounding (43.07 rpg) and 12th in points allowed per game (95.9 ppg). The Clippers are in the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and have achieved the franchise's best record (47-35) since the 1974-75 season, when they were known as the Buffalo Braves.
Dunleavy seems to have command of his players, and can be credited with the development of emerging center Chris Kaman, who often mentions his coach's name when talking about the Clippers' resurgence. Dunleavy's also established a terrific rapport with veteran Sam Cassell, considered something of a risk when Minnesota traded him to L.A. last summer because of chemistry concerns. The veteran has flourished in his new home, and Cassell's calm demeanor is tight ball games has added to the Clippers win total.
-- Brad Friedman
From one of his players:
||Coach Dunleavy has put his imprint on this team. He's been here for two years, this is his third year, and we've learned his offense and defensive schemes and we are all growing together and getting better together.
-- Elton Brand, Clippers.com.
A fan's take:
He has gotten the Clippers into the playoffs for the first time in a long time. He has helped Brand become this years best powerfoward by far. He has the team playing well togeather and I beleive that the Clippers can be very dangerous in the playoffs because they have a really good point guard and a good big man and that will take any team very far.
-- Bryan - Derry, N.H.
Coach of the Year - The Candidates:
Mike D'Antoni - Phoenix Suns
Mike Dunleavy Sr. - Los Angeles Clippers
Avery Johnson - Dallas Mavericks
Gregg Popovich - San Antonio Spurs
Flip Saunders - Detroit Pistons
Others worth consideration: Mike Brown, Rick Carlisle, Lawrence Frank, Mike Fratello, Pat Riley, Byron Scott
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