Brooklyn Nets Roundtable Sessions: Awards Part 2, COY, Most Improved
Session 2, The Awards Segment, Part 2:
The Brook-Lin scribes are actively watching the playoffs keeping our sights on which free agents perform well and putting on our thinking caps for what this summer will bring. As the team gears up for the offseason we conducted a series of roundtable sessions reflecting back on the 2017-18 season.
In this the second segment the scribes make their selections for NBA Awards 2017-18. Additionally, we also take a look at if and when any Brooklyn Nets might find their names included in the end of season awards. In part two of the four part Awards Segment we dive into top coaches, most improved players with a view to how Kenny Atkinson rates and whether Spencer Dinwiddie makes it a clean sweep as most improved Nets player.
Pick your top 3 Coach of the Year candidates
Terry Stotts dons the three-slot for establishing a great principled defensive system that finally got luck to go its way after some years of opposing hot shooting, Mike D’Antoni earns runner-up for tweaking his famous early offense pick-and-roll system to accommodate his two star guards and thriving, and Brad Stevens wins the award for consistently inserting his players into their ideal roles on both ends of the court.
Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors: Casey changed the culture of a team that desperately needed a shake-up.
Erik Spolestra, Miami Heat: ‘Spo took a team of players who otherwise would’ve been lottery-bound to a six seed in the playoffs.
Brad Stevens, Celtics: “The President” lost one of his top two players on opening night and was able to coax stellar performances out of extremely young players.
This year there are so many coaches who deserve hat tips. Dwane Casey gets the nod in the top spot and it’s deserved given the ‘culture shift’ and top East seed. But, part of the reason he’ll win I believe is because other top teams players will win awards and no other Raptors player will be in the mix.
The second and third spots were a more difficult selection for me. Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr. Erik Spoelstra and Quin Snyder and Alvin Gentry all maneuvered with key injuries to their rosters. Terry Stotts got his Blazers to perform well enough to land a home court seed in the Wild West and Brett Brown advanced the ‘Process’.
Ultimately my second and third picks are Quin Snyder and Brad Stevens.
Dwane Casey, Brad Stevens, and Quin Snyder in no particular order. Also shout out to Doc Rivers for somehow keeping the dumpster fire that was the Clippers this year close to the playoffs.
Where does Kenny Atkinson rank in NBA coaches?
I think Kenny is definitely in the top half of coaches league-wide. His player development skills are top-notch, and his after timeout plays are consistently excellent. I sometimes question his in-game rotations (which would be a primary area of improvement for him), but his offensive and defensive schemes are solid.
Atkinson comfortably fits in a tier among the top ten coaches in the NBA. He has a chance to be seen as perhaps one of the three or four best coaches if he continues to look good with evolving roster constructions and team expectations in the coming years. Atkinson has mastered the understanding of control of the three point arc on both ends of the court.
He prioritizes hoisting three point shots on offense and prioritizes denying three point looks on defense. He also instills a great confidence in his full roster and keeps away from micromanaging possessions, even in crunchtime. Atkinson just needs to show the ability to adapt once an established franchise player enters the Brooklyn fold or once the roster may not be suited well to his philosophies.
Atkinson is in the top 15 of NBA coaches. He is a smart offensive mind and his track record of player development is promising, but defensively he’s a mess and he arguably should have done more with the tools he was provided with on that end. The team runs a smart style and that should pay off in the future, but if he’s going to rise on this list the defense has to improve.
Atkinson toiled for years as an assistant, so with just two seasons as a head coach he’s still learning. That said, he’s put his stamp on the Nets and has his roster’s respect. No team competed from tip to buzzer as consistently as the Nets. That in itself is impressive. Other key areas he excels in are system, player development and empowering his players. I’d rank him in the middle tier, but could easily envision him joining the top ten soon.
Atkinson is definitely in the middle class of coaches in the NBA as he stands right now. With only has two seasons as a head coach under his belt but shows plenty of potential. Atkinson does a great job of getting the most out of the players he has available on his roster and has also done a great job of developing the younger players on the roster such as Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.
Pick your top 3 Most Improved Player Candidates
Victor Oladipo ran away with the award by making a truly unexpected leap in his shot dynamism and overall quickness. Oladipo became nearly impossible to guard one-on-one this season and finally achieved the All-Defense potential crowed about him coming out of college.
Second place Jrue Holiday made a less heralded but similar leap in play by greatly improving his strength. The stronger Holiday found it much easier finishing at the basket this season and guarding bigger guards and wings.
Third place goes to Tyreke Evans as the former Rookie of the Year completely revived his career in Memphis. Evans’s jumper fell at respectable rates and he offered the sole offensive creation ability to a bleak Grizzlies season.
Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana Pacers: He went from an afterthought on a weird Oklahoma City team to a superstar on Indiana in less than a year.
Jamal Murray, PG, Denver Nuggets: Murray made a leap this year and solidified himself as the point guard of the future in Denver.
Jaylen Brown, F, Celtics: Jaylen Brown capitalized on his momentum from last year’s playoffs and became a terror on the wings in Boston.
Victor Oladipo, Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker Spencer Dinwiddie
Honorable mention: Jamal Murray, Devin Booker and Fred VanVleet.
Victor Oladipo, Spencer Dinwiddie, Clint Capela
Who is your Nets Most Improved Player?
Spencer Dinwiddie by a pretty sizable margin. Dinwiddie went from a backup last year to a key cog in the Nets’ rotation this year and started for more than half of the season with Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell injured. Dinwiddie’s final numbers look iffier than expected due to his rough March/April stretch, but he really kept the team afloat before that.
Spencer Dinwiddie broke out in a major way as a guard literally every team should want. Dinwiddie showed more explosion and fluidity than ever off the dribble and Brooklyn heavily relied on those improvements to buoy an inconsistent offense through many tough games.
Spencer Dinwiddie gets the nod due to stepping up in the absence of Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell. Hat tip to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for a solid campaign as well.
Without a doubt Spencer Dinwiddie, increased his assists per game by 3.7 assists all while posting the second best assists to turnover ratio in the league (4.09). Plus he went from scoring 7.3 points per game last season to 12.6 points per game this season, another impressive increase.