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Sam Mitchell Named 2006-07 Coach of the Year

Watch Sam Mitchell talk about being named Coach of the Year.

Sam had nine new players that he worked into the lineup. (Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images)size>
(April 24, 2007) -- Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has been named the winner of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2006-07 season, the NBA announced today.

In his third season as the Raptors’ head coach, Mitchell totaled 389 points, including 49 first-place votes, from a panel of 128 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan was second with 301 points (39 first-place votes) and the Dallas Mavericks’ Avery Johnson was third with 268 points (28 first-place votes). Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

Mitchell, the first coach in Raptors history to receive the honour, led the Raptors to their first Atlantic Division title, a franchise-record-tying 47 wins, and home court advantage in the playoffs for the first time in team history. The sixth head coach in franchise history, Mitchell guided the team to an NBA-best 20-game improvement (27-55) over the 2005-06 season. The Raptors were 30-7 this season when they scored 100 or more points and 38-4 when they had a better (or same) field goal percentage than their opponents.

In January, Mitchell became only the second coach in Raptors history to earn Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honours after leading the team to a 10-5 record. During the month, Toronto recorded a 7-3 mark at home and was 8-2 versus Eastern Conference opponents. January was the Raptors’ first 10-win month since January 2002 (11-5) and the fifth double-digit win month in franchise history. The Raptors finished January leading the Atlantic Division by one game with a 23-23 record and then compiled a 24-12 record to close out the rest of the season.

During his 13-year playing career, Mitchell was held in high regard around the league as a student of the game and when he finally hung up his sneakers in 2002, he went from student to teacher in his new role as an NBA coach. Following two seasons as an assistant coach, Mitchell was named the Raptors’ sixth head coach on June 29, 2004. Although the Raptors finished 33-49 in Mitchell’s first season, the campaign under his direction was highlighted by the implementation of a more up-tempo style of play that saw the team’s points per game average increase by 14.3 over the previous season, the third-highest jump in NBA history.

The Coach of the Year Award is named after legendary coach and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach who guided the Celtics to nine NBA Championships. In 1996, Auerbach was honoured as one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History as the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Following are the balloting results for the 2006-07 NBA Coach of the Year award and the all-time list of winners:
Coach, Team
1st
2nd
3rd
Pts
Sam Mitchell, Toronto
49
43
20
394
Jerry Sloan, Utah
39
28
22
301
Avery Johnson, Dallas
28
31
35
268
Jeff Van Gundy, Houston
10
19
27
134
Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix
2
3
3
22
Don Nelson, Golden State
--
2
7
13
Scott Skiles, Chicago
--
1
9
12
Pat Riley, Miami
--
1
--
3
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
--
--
2
2
George Karl, Denver
--
--
1
1
Flip Saunders, Detroit
--
--
1
1
Isiah Thomas, New York
--
--
1
1