Given the incredible season that Quin Snyder orchestrated for the Utah Jazz amidst a constant onslaught of injuries, he was absolutely snubbed by not being named a Coach of the Year finalist.
Last week I was quick to commend Rudy Gobert for having been selected as a finalist for both the Defensive Player of the Year award and the Most Improved Player award. While the former was certainly expected, the latter was somewhat of a pleasant surprise.
Rudy has undoubtedly made massive strides this year and is deserving of being in the conversation for Most Improved Player. With so many players earning consideration for that award, though, had Gobert not been selected as a finalist, it likely wouldn’t have been viewed by many, even by Utah Jazz fans, as a snub.
However, in the case of another NBA Award, namely the Coach of the Year, the fact that Quin Snyder wasn’t selected as one of the finalists was absolutely a major snub.
Instead, the three finalists for the prestigious coaching award were the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, the Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni and the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra.
Each of these three coaches most certainly has a case for winning the award. Gregg Popovich virtually always deserves to be in the conversation for the incredible job he does year after year. Mike D’Antoni took a former eighth seed Rockets team and revolutionized them into a Western Conference powerhouse by playing James Harden as the team’s point guard.
Meanwhile, Erik Spoelstra orchestrated an incredible turnaround, taking his Heat from a 10-24 start to an incredible 41-41, going 31-17 over the final four months of the season to find themselves out of playoff contention solely due to the fact that the Chicago Bulls owned the tiebreaker.
All three of those coaches are excellent candidates and certainly deserve recognition for what they did this season. However, although perhaps he shouldn’t be the ultimate winner, it’s still a shame that Quin Snyder was not selected among the three finalists.
Snyder took a team that finished with just 40 wins last season and found themselves out of the postseason, and helped them turn into a 51-win squad that grabbed the fifth seed in the Western Conference. And he did so while having to constantly tweak his rotation due to the outrageous number of injuries the Jazz suffered.
Between Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood and George Hill alone (all guys who figured to play large roles this season) the Jazz suffered 128 games lost due to injury. Hill, the team’s starting point guard, missed 33 games while Favors the starting power forward missed 32. The Jazz were so injured, that their projected starters – Hill, Hood, Hayward, Favors and Gobert – were only able to play 14 games together. Just FOURTEEN GAMES!
Snyder was forced to constantly shuffle his starting lineup and put guys into different roles to make things work and somehow the Jazz still managed to win over 50 games. If any other team ahead of Utah in the standings had suffered that many injuries to their starters (except maybe Golden State depending on who was hurt), there’s almost no way they would’ve been able to keep it together the way that Quin Snyder and the Jazz did.
To top it all off, the Jazz struggled so greatly to stay healthy that they led the league with nine games lost due to injury, according to ManGamesLost.com. Who knows just what Snyder might have been able to do if he’d been able to build up cohesion and regularity in his rotation all season long.
Therefore, given all that Snyder had to overcome to keep his team competitive and the fact that he did so in spite of all the injuries while improving dramatically on the team’s output from last season, in my opinion it’s an absolute travesty that he wasn’t recognized as at least one of the finalists.
Were it up to me, I would have selected Snyder as a finalist over Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. I mean no disrespect to Coach Spoelstra as he is one of the league’s greats and there’s no downplaying the role he played in orchestrating his team’s turnaround. However, the fact that Miami still didn’t quite get over the hump to make the playoffs kind of diminishes the significance of what the Heat accomplished this season.
Yes, Miami struggled with significant injury woes as well, but the fact that Snyder was able to overcome his team’s health issues to not just sneak into the playoffs but surge his way into the fifth seed and ultimately into the second round of the postseason whereas the Heat didn’t even get into the playoffs makes me feel that Snyder was more deserving of the nod.
Improving a team the way Snyder has since taking over as Utah’s head coach is an impressive feat in and of itself. Doing it with two straight injury-plagued years is even more so, and Quin truthfully deserved recognition for it this season.
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Hopefully next year he can take yet another important leap forward by helping the Jazz turn into a 60-win team and therefore finally garner the distinction he deserves as one of the league’s best coaches.