Who Is COTY? To The West, To The West

We just ran down the top candidates for Coach of the Year in the East. Here are the ones in the West:

RICK ADELMAN, Houston Rockets: Twenty-two in a row! Adelman led his team to the second-longest winning streak in NBA history and propelled the Rockets from 10th to the top of the Western Conference with one of the most incredible and magical runs ever. The most amazing part is that they won 10 straight without all-star Yao, and have gone 12-3 overall since their 7-foot-6 center was lost for the season.

No way you don't win the award, Rick. Well, we've still got to make the playoffs, Tracy. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

Most impressive is that Adelman has been getting it done with a formula of one "superstar" player and solid role players the entire season. You tend to forget that Tracy McGrady has missed 15 games this season, and the Rockets still managed to have relative success without him.

After a rough initial patch that included a disappointing 15-17 start, Adelman has been squeezing out all the talent out from the likes of Rafer Alston, rookies Carl Landry and Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, Shane Battier and turned Dikembe Mutombo into his old, finger-wagging self again.

"It took awhile, almost a quarter of a way through the season to see where all the openings are in our offense, to see where we can be effective," Alston said of the adjustment period to Adelman's system. "We're definitely going to buy in. We don't have individual guys on this team, we have guys who have a want or will to do it together."

BYRON SCOTT, New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets have the best record in the Western Conference in late March. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. I said hand to be generous, because not one person could've imagined this for the Hornets - that Chris Paul would be a serious candidate for the league's most valuable player award, David West would be an all-star forward in the conference that shares his last name and Scott would be leading them to the top.

My team is in first place. What more do you want me to do? (AP Photo/Sean Gardner)

Outside of the Paul, West, Tyson Chandler, and to a lesser extent Peja Stojakovic, the Hornets' roster won't wow anybody. Morris Peterson starts at shooting guard. Jannero Pargo is their top sixth man. They don't have much front court depth. Yet, Scott has the Hornets beating the best in the league on a nightly basis. More importantly, the Hornets are saving basketball in the Gulf Coast, as the team has dramatically improved in attendance since the all-star break. The people of New Orleans really have something to get excited about again.

Scott has done this before, taking New Jersey to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, but he hit a difficult stretch after that last appearance. He lost his job with the Nets after falling out with Jason Kidd, then he won 18 games in his first season in New Orleans. The Hornets have battled injuries and relocation to Oklahoma City the past two seasons, but now that the team is stable and healthy, Scott is showing what he can do.

PHIL JACKSON, Los Angeles Lakers: Jackson won the award in 1995-96 when he led the Bulls to 72 wins. Since then, his superstar players (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant) have gotten most of the credit for the success. Bryant may become the third player to win an MVP award under Jackson this season, but you cannot ignore the job Jackson has done with the Lakers.

Okay, guys. Get the ball to Kobe right here. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

First off, he helped the Lakers avoid a major disaster at the beginning of the season, with all of the trade speculation surrounding Bryant. Don't think that Jackson's presence didn't have some influence on Bryant hitting the floor and going hard from the opening tip. Jackson also has players like Ronny Turiaf, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, among others, understanding their roles and performing at high levels.

Of course, the Pau Gasol trade helped elevate the Lakers to truly elite status. But you have to remember that the Lakers have been without Andrew Bynum for two months, and the Lakers were playing pretty well before the Bynum injury and the Gasol trade. But Jackson has had a calming influence on what should've been a topsy-turvy year.

NATE MCMILLAN, Portland Trail Blazers: In the first half of the season, McMillan had this award locked up after turning the league's youngest team at the time into a playoff contender in the highly competitive West - without Greg Oden.

The award was mine two months ago. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Blazers - and McMillan's campaign - have come back to earth after the team won 17 of 18 games from December through early January. Portland (37-34) has gone 12-18 since rising to the top of the Northwest Division on Jan. 21, but that doesn't take away from the development of players such as Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw.

Portland already has six more wins than last season and has exceeded expectations with their No. 1 overall pick watching from the bench, sometimes with bad mohawks.

The winner probably won't become clear until the season ends. It really is too close to call right now, but it will likely be Cheeks, Adelman or Jordan. What do you think?

By Michael Lee |  March 25, 2008; 12:15 PM ET
Previous: Who Is Coach Of The Year? The East Coast Debate | Next: Wiz at Portland, Arenas opens up


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Adelman, Cheeks, Byron Scott, and Van Gundy, in that order. Throw Jerry Sloan in there too.

Posted by: Red | March 25, 2008 12:31 PM

Eddie Jordan would've won 23 in a row if he coached the Rockets.
The Hornets would already have 50 wins if Eddie had Chris Paul.
If Eddie coached Kobe, the Lakers would already have a championship without Shaq.
And don't get me started with Portland.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 1:03 PM

Even though Eddie and the wiz habe played well despite the injuries Jordan shouldn't be considered for this job. Ayers should be considered before eddie even though I know they don't pick assistants. Depsite the record Eddie has thrown away many games this year b/c of his rotation. Eddie plays all the wrong players at the wrong times on a regular basis.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 1:24 PM

Adelman, McMillan, Jordan.

Posted by: MDBaller1 | March 25, 2008 2:37 PM

Cheeks, Adelman, Jackson, Scott, McMillan, Van Gundy, Nelson, EJ and Rivers.

Basis: Manpower, record, O and D system and team motivation.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | March 25, 2008 3:16 PM

It is clear to anyone who follows the team closely that the improved D is because of Ayers. And Eddie's rotation-patterns are still greatly lacking any consistency, or rhyme or reason. If Ernie hadn't let Jefferies and Hayes walk, they'd still be getting major minutes.

"Despite what some people think on this blog, people around the league recognzie Eddie is doing a great job." Michael and Ivan, you need to understand that while Eddie has done a pretty good job overall this year, it still does not excuse him (nor the local writers who cover the team) from ignoring glaring redundant inefficiencies, such as perpetually struggling to inbound the ball at the end of close games. God-forbid a story mentions that, as opposed to rehashing Gilbert's injury update for the 7th time.

Posted by: "some people" | March 25, 2008 3:18 PM

Scott's done a nice job, but it's between McMillan and Adelman for me, with Adelman getting the edge. Even though they fell off late, McMillan gets a ton of credit for keeping his team on an even keel after Oden went down, and squeezing more out of a young inexperienced team than most would have thought possible. But Adelman gets the West nod (and the overall one) for not only remaking the Rockets' entire offensive philosophy while still maintaining their defensive edge, but for remaking the offense again, on the fly, after Yao went out and keeping them rolling through all the upheaval.

Posted by: kalorama | March 25, 2008 3:24 PM

"If Ernie hadn't let Jefferies and Hayes walk, they'd still be getting major minutes"

You can add Ruffin and Booth in the list. And if not for Etan having surgery we could have seen him starting and BH riding on the bench getting 10-15 playing time.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | March 25, 2008 3:30 PM

My order:
Scott, Adelman, Jordan, Van Gundy, Jackson, Cheeks

But the last 3 weeks will make all the difference. Could easily change. Sustaining it and finishing strong is very important to me.

For example, Adelman may drop if the Rockets stop their amazing run, as it appears may be happening. Cheeks got it going late...can he sustain it? How will the Magic's season end? EJ has weathered horrible slump and we seem to be sustaining the good balling.The more you think about it EJ has done a great job. In the fall I had predicted 48-52 wins for the teams barring key injuries. If this team wins 44-45 games, and that is not impossible still, it will be absolutely amazing. We'd need to win 8 or 9 of the remaining 13 games.

The last few weeks of the regular season are quite interesting. Some teams are trying to get into playoff position, some are trying to get into playoff groove, some are coasting and bored and waiting for playoffs to begin while some are so bad they are just waiting for the season to be over. But some bad teams for some reason can put it together and play 1 or 2 great games...you just don't know what you are gonna catch down the stretch. But we do know that the Wizards are starting to peak!

Posted by: BmoreRev | March 25, 2008 3:35 PM

If EJ wins the COTY award, he should do like Ving Rhames where Ving handed the Golden Globe to Jack Lemmon. EJ should hand it to Ayers.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 3:47 PM

Aldeman, Cheeks, Jordan

Posted by: Rook | March 25, 2008 4:09 PM

yea wheres jerry s. guy is a freakin genius who simply does it year in and year out in nowheresville utah and never gets any pub.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 4:25 PM

I'd agree, Sloan's has done one heck of a job year after year, almost forever. He was one tough son of a gun as a player and his teams have always played the same way.

Posted by: GM | March 25, 2008 5:46 PM

Gilbert Arenas has a new blog entry. He talks about how ticked-off he was when the Doctors told him he couldn't play against Detroit.

It looks like he won't be playing until AFTER the West Coast trip...

Posted by: Rook | March 25, 2008 6:07 PM

Hey Michael,

Could you please give us an article on the whole Seattle/OKC mess. If Seattle ends up moving in a somewhat underhanded fashion then that is the biggest story in the NBA this year. Give us some info please, it's almost like all the NBA reporters are avoiding the giant monster in the back of the room.

Posted by: Free DC | March 26, 2008 12:51 PM

Byron Scott deserves this. Lets not get silly. I'd love to argue for my man Sloan, but this year someone made an even more notable improvement to their team than the Jazz, and Scott has to get some love for it. They have less talent and probly gonna run out of gas in the postseason, but the Hornets are where they are, and that deserves some love.

Posted by: Dude | March 27, 2008 12:34 PM

what about Gregg Popervich

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2008 9:49 AM

what about Gregg Popervich

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2008 9:49 AM

I love philippines! yo go there! there a lot of chicks out here! eheh by the way i love chris paul! wish you the best! yo bro come and go here in the philippines! yeah bro! manny pacman pacquiao.. alam mo george bush, kinalbo mo tite ko!chupain mo nga si gloria, kurakot e! cge na pls! love u filipino! pagbugbug kta ky batista e,, LONG LIVE TAU GAMMA PHI GRAND TRISKELION! NUEVE CHAPTER!

Posted by: Tite Mo Kalbo | March 28, 2008 10:12 AM

I love philippines! yo go there! there a lot of chicks out here! eheh by the way i love chris paul! wish you the best! yo bro come and go here in the philippines! yeah bro! manny pacman pacquiao.. alam mo george bush, kinalbo mo tite ko!chupain mo nga si gloria, kurakot e! cge na pls! love u filipino! pagbugbug kta ky batista e,, LONG LIVE TAU GAMMA PHI GRAND TRISKELION! NUEVE CHAPTER!

Posted by: Tite Mo Kalbo | March 28, 2008 10:12 AM

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