basically, an early look for COY
* * * The Jerry Sloan Award * * *
Any coach who's worked his way to a better-than-.500 record with a starting line-up that includes Carlos Arroyo, DeShawn Stevenson, and Greg Ostertag does not deserve to win the Coach of the Year Award -- he deserves to have the thing named after him.
Jerry Sloan can walk into a room full of NBA coaches and ask, Larry Bird-style, "So, which one of you is going to be runner-up for Coach of the Year?"
An early look at the candidates for the Jerry Sloan Award:
Terry Porter. On paper, the Bucks starting line-up might be less impressive than that of the Jazz. If any team could ever consider it an accomplishment to be in the playoff race in the East, the Bucks can. Ford, Redd, Skinner, Thomas, Smith? And tied for 5th in the conference? Just nasty.
Nate McMillan. Not many coaches would be willing to admit they've been giving out playing time based on players' reputations instead of their performance, and then vow to change. And not many coaches could tell their team that they're embarrassing themselves with their play and get a positive response, either. McMillan has a sense of honesty to which his players respond, and despite being without Ray Allen for most of the season thus far, the Sonics have played winning ball.
Flip Saunders. Flip's had a lot of work to do this season. He had to get an almost completely new line-up to mesh, find a way to win without Olowokandi and Sczerbiak, and get everyone to not be afraid that an alien is about to pop out of Sam Cassell's head. Flip's getting the job done, and the Wolves are one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
Kevin O'Neill. The Raptos are hanging around just a notch below the Pacers, Pistons, and Hornets in the East, and it's got more to do with Kevin O'Neill's defense than it does with the resurgence of Vince Carter's considerable offense.
Mike Dunleavy. Yes, his team is under .500 and probably won't be making the playoffs, but what do you want? It's the Clippers. The fact that they have yet to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs is evidence that Dunleavy Sr. is getting it done.
Jeff Bzdelik. He's doing a sweet job, no doubt, but it is probably kept out of serious contention by the fact that the Nugs have also upgraded their talent so much.