Coach George Karl was named the NBA Coach of the Year Wednesday and since his Denver Nuggets earned another early exit out of the playoffs, he had plenty of time on his schedule to accept the award and speak on it.
Karl led the Nuggets on a great regular season path and despite having no All-Star on his roster, he managed to set a franchise record in wins with 57. The Nuggets came into the postseason as the third seed and were seemingly deep enough to make a quality run at the Western Conference title.
The Nuggets struggled with injury down the homes stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. With second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari out until next season, the team couldn’t recover without his 3-point presence. Denver was terrible behind the arc offensively and defensively against the Golden State Warriors and if Gallinari was healthy, Karl may have been more successful this go-around.
The fact of the matter is that Karl is a great coach during the regular season, but he can’t do anything in the playoffs. Making the playoffs 10 seasons in a row and making it out of the first round only once cannot be seen as a success. However, it appears Karl has strong job security after receiving the Red Auerbach Trophy.
In an interesting article written three years ago, the author suggests that winning the Coach of the Year award may be a curse as coaches winning the award from the 2005-06 season to the 2008-09 season ended up being fired by their teams.
Could this be the fate of Karl if the Nuggets don’t get out of the first round next postseason? The last three winners of the same award are currently doing well and employed by the same team they won the award with, so the curse seems to have subsided, at least for the time being.
Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are both playing at an outstanding level and will be looking to make the All-Star team next season. With coach Karl sticking around, the Nuggets will surely try and make a run at the playoffs once again without a big name. Who knows though, if the Nuggets struggle to win for some reason early on next season, Karl may be out before the break.
Andre Iguodala‘s future is uncertain with the Nuggets and it’s going to be tough to get to 57 wins without him in the lineup. The Nuggets have potential to turn some players into All-Stars, but the team will continue to win relying on fast play and a deep roster.
The expectations are higher than ever for coach Karl to form a roster that is capable of not only a great regular season, but a great postseason as well. The team’s effort this season was remarkable and coming up short was more disappointing than ever.
That said, he deserves the honors and praise from receiving the Coach of the Year award. Karl’s reliance on the effort of every player on his team has made him the great coach he is.
For now, I think we all can forgive him for another early exit from the playoffs. His team wasn’t 100 percent and the Warriors are proving to be a formidable foe. He has made the Nuggets the franchise they are today and without him the Nuggets certainly wouldn’t be one of the top offensive teams in the league.
Karl has another season to set the bar high, so let’s hope his team can live up to the expectations when it matters most. With ten attempts in the playoffs coming up empty, Karl should know what it takes to advance by now.
Congratulations, coach Karl. Now please get to work on figuring a way to get the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals.