Jayson Tatum was a top-3 finalist for the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He lost to Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Okay, fair enough. Simmons had a great regular season, he led his team to 50 wins, and he was one of the focal points of the offense whereas Tatum only spent the latter third of the season as a primary option. I can live with that.
Brad Stevens was a top-3 finalist for the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year award. He lost to Dwane Casey for his job with the Toronto Raptors last season. Dwane Casey no longer coaches the Toronto Raptors.
Alright, time to riot.
To be fair, the Toronto Raptors had a great regular season. They persevered through no major injuries, having the major limbs of two of the All-Stars on their closest competitors, the Boston Celtics, spontaneously combust, and they kept Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers pretty close. If we’re being honest here, we really have to give Casey credit there.
The Raptors could have easily folded this season, but they were a resilient bunch. I mean, any time you can have your team wait until Game 3 on the road to give up on a series after losing the first two games at home in a playoff series to a lower seed, you have to stop and give them recognition.
Honestly, any time a Coach of the Year award finalist is fired because of getting swept in back-to-back years in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, how can you not recognize that? I don’t understand how anyone can be mad at the Raptors having such a great regular season after Casey was brilliant enough to tell his guys last summer, “2 points are better than 3 points.” Really, he’s only about 4 years late on that one, so the Raptors deserve a ton of credit here.
I am certainly not mad about it. It’s actually quite hilarious to me. I’m laughing hysterically about it as I think about how funny it all is.
I’ll be honest, Dwane Casey is a great coach. I’m happy that he gets to escape the two brick builders he’s been stuck with in the playoffs for the last few seasons, and I’m sure he’ll do a great job with this Detroit Pistons roster over the next few years. He did change his offense around, and he certainly got the best out of his bench players this season. The Raptors had a phenomenal second unit, and Casey gets a lot of credit for that. Although they didn’t face a lot of adversity in the regular season, they did what they needed to do, and if they didn’t have the Raptors reputation, they would have been the scariest Eastern Conference playoff team entering the first round.
But they did have that reputation, and it’s not unfounded. They earned that by choking year after year after year. You might respond with, “well, it’s a regular season award.”
Yes, it is. And under normal circumstances, Casey would be a fine selection for Coach of the Year. This season, I don’t believe he was. I don’t believe he should have won over Quin Snyder either. Casey faced almost no adversity and still beat out the Hospital Celtics by 4 wins in the standings. Additionally, when you’re awarding a coach for regular season excellence, you have to wonder why you’re alienating an entire section of the NBA schedule (the playoffs) when it goes against your narrative.
Brad Stevens was a phenomenal coach through adversity in both the regular season and the playoffs. It may be unfair to punish Casey’s case because he didn’t face any adversity, but it should certainly boost Stevens case because he faced it and dealt with it accordingly.
Stevens watched as an entire two months of planning and scrimmaging just 5 minutes into the NBA season. Stevens spent a whole summer scheming of ways to incorporate Hayward into the offense, and he had to scrap that plan on the fly. He had to trust a 19-year-old rookie and a 21-year-old Jaylen Brown to carry a load that they weren’t supposed to at this stage.
And the injury hits kept coming. The Celtics lost Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis. Marcus Smart missed large stretches. Marcus Morris was in and out of the lineup. Al Horford missed a few games here and there. The Celtics never stumbled. The players get a lot of credit for it, but Brad Stevens deserves the recognition for his leadership as well.
The Raptors were within 1 game of the Hospital Celtics in the standings with one week left in the season.
Let this sink in: the second-seeded Boston Celtics were the #1 defense in the NBA last season. They had the 4th most wins in the league. They were 5 minutes away from the NBA Finals without two of their All-Stars. All that the Celtics will have to show for it is one All-Defensive 2nd Team selection for Al Horford. I guess all that the Celtics accomplished this season just . . . happened. If only there was some quantifiable way to prove that the Celtics were good. Perhaps in the form of some well-deserved accolades that might be shown off in the form of a showcase of some sort.
Brad Stevens will certainly win a Coach of the Year award at some point in his career. Looking at all of the circumstances, his first one should have been this year.
But I’m not mad about it. It’s quite funny to me.