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Monday, April 20, 2009

Mike Brown Wins the Coach of the Year Award

Cleveland Coach Mike Brown received 55 of 122 first place votes from a media panel and won the 2009 Coach of the Year award with 355 points compared to 151 points (including 13 first place votes) for Houston's Rick Adelman. Orlando's Stan Van Gundy finished third with 150 points; he also had 13 first place votes, while Nate McMillan received 15 first place votes but placed fourth overall (127 points). Denver's George Karl (117 points, 11 first place votes) was the only only coach with more than 100 points (points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis for the three spots on the ballot).

I would have voted for Brown first and Adelman second, just like the official panel did.

Brown received a lot of unwarranted criticism in the past few seasons but I have consistently said that his defense-first approach is the right way to build a championship team. I also reported that while some people think that "advanced stats" contain all the answers, Mike Brown Coaches by Feel, Not Numbers. Brown models his approach on the philosophy of his mentor, San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich, a four-time NBA champion who recently told me, "I would depend more on what I see and feel than on overdosing on stats."

Early in Brown's tenure, I mentioned that he and General Manager Danny Ferry were trying to turn Cleveland into "San Antonio East." In light of how Ferry's player acquisitions and Brown's strategies have turned Cleveland into a defensive powerhouse, it is interesting to look back at some of the things that Cleveland assistant coach Hank Egan--who also has a San Antonio pedigree on his extensive coaching resume--told me three years ago when Brown was just beginning to reshape the Cavs. In particular, Egan mentioned that it takes a year or more for a team to get completely in tune with a new defensive philosophy. Keeping that timetable in mind, I was one of the few people who correctly predicted that the Cavs would make it to the 2007 NBA Finals and I have consistently picked them to do better than most other analysts did; for quite some time people have failed to fully understand and appreciate the kind of team that Brown is putting together, so it is nice that now he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:27 PM

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At Tuesday, April 21, 2009 7:53:00 PM, Blogger Joel said...

As someone who has been a strong advocate for Mike Brown, you may appreciate this article by ESPN's Chris Broussard.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=broussard_chris&page=Brown-090421

Under Brown, the Cavs quickly became one of the league's top defensive and rebounding clubs, and that, along with James, has been the key to their success.That quote might as well have come directly from one of your articles about the Cavs. ;-)

 
At Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:37:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Joel:

I don't remember Broussard (publicly) sticking up for Coach Brown but I haven't been following ESPN.com very closely for quite some time, so I'll take his word for it; Broussard's work is generally on target, from what I've seen. I agree with most of what Broussard wrote in this particular article, though I think that he is underestimating the overall talent of the Cavs' roster; the Cavs have arguably the deepest team in the league, even though they do not have as many stars as a team like the Celtics (when the Celtics are healthy).

 

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