ESPN Forecast: Steve Kerr for Coach of Year

ByRoyce Webb ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We don't have meaningful stats for coaches, so Coach of the Year is the award where narrative matters most.

Opinions about coaches are also fairly fixed, but we still pass the award around from coach to coach. It might not make much sense, but hey, it's tradition.

As is often the case, the picture is a bit messy this year, with the ESPN Forecast panel making a split decision -- it thinks one coach should win the award but says another will win.

The breakdown:

Steve Kerr

Golden State Warriors

Should win: 34 percent

Will win: 59 percent

Our panel thinks that Kerr will be rewarded for leading Golden State to the NBA's best record. But it doesn't think he actually should win.

Kerr had better enjoy this, because it's probably the only Auerbach Trophy he'll ever win. Only seven coaches have won the award more than once. Meanwhile, the following have won only once: Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, Mike D'Antoni, Tom Heinsohn, Red Holzman, George Karl, Dick Motta, Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau and Lenny Wilkins, plus Red Auerbach himself, though that's probably because the award began in 1962-63. Some Hall of Fame coaches never won the award.

Mike Budenholzer

Atlanta Hawks

Should win: 51 percent

Will win: 39 percent

Coach Bud has a powerful case. While the Warriors were projected by real plus-minus and FiveThirtyEight to win the West, the Hawks looked like a 44-win team. By leading Atlanta to 60-plus wins while taking the GM reins from Danny Ferry (who's on leave), in the midst of a potential franchise sale, Budenholzer has had a season to remember.

But even though our panel tends to think Budenholzer should win, it doesn't think he actually will. And if voters decide winning the West by 10-plus games is more impressive than winning the East by a similar margin, it's hard to quarrel.

Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs

Should win: 7 percent

Will win: 1 percent

It's been said that Popovich should win every year. But that would cut against the grand tradition that's brought us recent COY award winners Scott Brooks, Mike Brown, Byron Scott, Sam Mitchell and Mike Dunleavy.

Jason Kidd

Milwaukee Bucks

Should win: 3 percent

Will win: 0 percent

Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics

Should win: 3 percent

Will win: 0 percent

Kidd and Stevens couldn't have arrived under more different circumstances, but their narratives have converged: They've emerged as a pair of bright young second-year coaches leading up-and-coming Eastern Conference teams to surprising playoff berths. Green shoots, you might say.

Also receiving votes: David Blatt, Brett Brown, Kevin McHale, Quin Snyder, Terry Stotts, Tom Thibodeau.

Click below to see ESPN Forecast's 2014-15 award picks: