When the time comes to name this year’s NBA Coach of the Year, there is really no better man for the trophy than New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson. In his first full season with the team, he has guided his squad to a 52-27 record as well as the Atlantic Division crown, New York’s first since 1994.
Ever since he took over for Mike D’Antoni in March of 2012, Woodson has gone 70-33 with the Knicks finally reaching their true potential that their star-studded roster should allow.
But it’s not numbers alone that make Woodson the only one worthy of this year’s award. Rather, it is just how much he has gotten out of a team that not even coaching legend Phil Jackson wanted to touch, calling them a “mess” over the summer.
It’s hard to argue with him, as the Knicks did not look like much of a team when the season began. Sure, Carmelo Anthony was a bona fide star, but the roster outside of top center Tyson Chandler, injury-prone Amar’e Stoudemire and role players in J.R. Smith and Steve Novak looked more like an Old Timers Day squad than an NBA roster.
For some reason or another, New York GM Glen Grunwald chose to bring in Kurt Thomas (via the sign-and-trade for Raymond Felton), Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd and fresh-out-of-retirement Rasheed Wallace to round out the roster.
Granted, Camby, Wallace and the recently-waived Thomas grew more famous this season for their injuries than they did their play on the floor, but that still doesn’t take away from how much Woodson was able to get out of the aging players. Camby and Wallace were solid presences when healthy, from Camby’s tough game in the paint to Wallace’s knack for sinking threes, and even Kidd has become a reliable shooter and defender who can also come through in the clutch.
Not only did Woodson turn what looked like an aging and bound-to-fail roster into one of the league’s elite teams, not to mention one that defeated the defending champion Miami Heat three times, but he was able to keep the team competing and playing hard to win despite a multitude of injuries, notably one to Stoudemire.
Moreover, the man now has the league’s leading scorer in Anthony on his team. That said, still think the man is a ball-hog?
Nothing against other well-deserving candidates like Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers or George Karl of the Denver Nuggets, but both men were expected to have excellent seasons. Granted, so was Woodson, but definitely not on this level.
This man has made the Knicks extremely relevant once again, and it’s time to reward his effort by naming him this season’s Coach of the Year.