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Portland Trail Blazers Got Hosed From Two Top NBA Awards

Monday, May 16, 2016

 

Terry Stotts not winning Coach of the Year and Neil Olshey getting sandbagged out of Executive of the Year is insane. Do the sportswriters watch anything other than SportsCenter highlights of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs?

Looking at COY, there is no contest who did the best coaching job in the 2015-16 NBA season. If COY was about having the best team, it would be Steve Kerr. However, that isn't the case. The award is about the coaching job that is done.

There are three things worth pointing out about Kerr. He coached 43 regular season games, Steph Curry is playing at a special level hitting shots with an ease that hasn’t been seen in the NBA, and Golden State has veteran leadership and could almost coach itself, as the Los Angeles Lakers will find out when Luke Walton is sitting on the bench. 

Watching what Stotts did this season was a sight to behold. 

You can’t talk about Stotts however without looking at the job Olshey did. The Blazers general manager went bargain shopping for groceries in free agency, and he more or less got it perfect. Stotts took those groceries and created something special. 

The new starting lineup and overall roster is why both Stotts and Olshey should have new hardware on their mantles. The Blazers had the lowest payroll ($41 million) in the NBA this season and made it into the playoffs. 

The salary for the 2014-15 starting lineup this season would have been around $65 million with Wesley Mathews, Robin Lopez, and LaMarcus Aldridge’s new 2015-16 deals. Portland’s entire payroll last season was $67 million. 

The 2015-16 playoff starting lineup salary for Portland was $18.49 million with Moe Harkless in there. That’s about a $46 million difference (all salaries approximations). Stotts pushed all the right buttons and got the team with the lowest payroll into the fifth seed in the Western Conference. I guess that’s not a big deal though; I’m sure that happens all the time. 

Olshey brings in a bunch of unproven, young, but hungry players, and Stotts and Damian Lillard slowly molded them into a family. The Blazers have a clear first option. After Lillard though, everything else was a question, C.J. McCollum was still unproven. He played well in the playoffs against Memphis, but he never got the chance to show what he could do over a full season. 

Stotts got more out of Al-Farouq Aminu and Harkless than anyone could have expected. Those two guys played big minutes in the playoffs, hit big shots, and played tough defense. They might be the long-term answer at forward going forward.

There’s also something that hasn’t been talked about enough and that is the Blazer rotation.

Playing Lillard the entire first quarter and then having McCollum run the point for six to eight minutes of the second quarter is masterful coaching. Those two handled the ball 90 percent of the time and can create their own shot and shots for others. Normally there is a steep drop off when a backup point guard comes in. That is not the case in Portland; McCollum showed he can play the point in the NBA and do it well.

The Blazers came from nowhere to make a surprise playoff run. Shouldn’t Coach and Executive of the Year be about out performing your expectations, not doing what’s expected? The playoff run cemented the fact that the Rip City got robbed. 

Those two snubs are just more fuel for the fire that won’t be forgotten in the Rose City. 

 

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