Charlotte Hornets: Steve Clifford For Coach of the Year?

Apr 3, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts on the bench during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts on the bench during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Charlotte Hornets had an impressive season and it was due in large part to head coach, Steve Clifford, who should be considered as a Coach of the Year Candidate.

The Charlotte Hornets are in place that no one expected when the season first began. They are in the sixth seed of the Eastern Conference playoffs and finished with a 48-33 record this season. Head coach, Steve Clifford, has changed his team and should be a leading candidate for the Coach of the Year Award.

The Hornets have changed their style of play this season and Clifford has made Charlotte into a contender in the Eastern Conference with their new look offense. The Hornets are only one of five teams to make the playoffs this season after missing them last year.

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The Charlotte Hornets also tied the league lead for the biggest jump in wins this season with 15 more victories than they had last season. The only other team to win 15 more games this year was the New York Knicks who missed the playoffs.

Charlotte has the biggest improvement record wise this season after going only 33-48 last season. The main reason for their improved play and better record is because of the team’s offensive style. Coach Clifford has reinvented the Hornets offense this year. The Hornets had many new additions, like Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin, Spencer Hawes, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, and even Courtney Lee halfway through the season. Clifford did a great job of incorporating into the team this year.

The team ranked 28th in points per game last season with only 94.2 PPG. They now rank ninth in the NBA with 103.4 points per game this year. That is almost a jump of 10 points per game for the Charlotte Hornets.

Charlotte’s improved offense was because of their ability to shoot the three ball this year. They only made 498 threes on 31.8% shooting last season. The team almost double that this season with 873 three pointers made on an improved 36.2% shooting from deep.

The Hornets ranked seventh in the league last year by only allowing their opponents to score 97.3 points per game. You would think that the improved offense would take a toll on their defense but it didn’t. The team ranked ninth in opponents points per game with 100.7 this season.

The Charlotte Hornets also saw improvements in their assists per game and steals per game this season. That shows their great ball movement and commitment to defense. Many believe that other coaches such as Steve Kerr, Terry Stotts, Brad Stevens, Dwane Casey, or Gregg Popovich deserve the Coach of the year Award but luckily I’m here to tell you why Clifford deserves it more than all of them.

Steve Kerr may be the head coach of the best team in basketball history but he does not deserve the award this year. Honestly, the Golden State Warriors would easily win 60+ games with whatever coach you give them. They had a better record with Luke Walton as their interim coach for 43 games than with Kerr over 39 games. The Warriors went 39-4 with Walton and only 34-5. How could you possibly give it to someone who missed half the season and they weren’t even as good as their replacement?

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Terry Stotts of the Portland Trailblazers could be considered a coach of the year candidate because he lost four of his five starters from last season and still was able to lead the trailblazers to a top-5 seed in the Western conference. He has a good case but he also won fewer games than last season. Seven less to be exact. Of course that is because of the roster but I don’t believe a coach who did worse than last season deserves a coach of the year award even though he overcame a lot this year.

Brad Stevens from the Boston Celtics is another coach of the year candidate because of his great coaching and getting the most out of his team without a superstar this season. But Clifford basically did the same thing. Boston made the playoffs last season and won eight more games this year but the Hornets had the same record this year with far more new additions that Clifford had to incorporate into he offense.

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  • Dwane Casey from the Toronto Raptors is another coach of the year candidate because he has led his team to the second best record in the Eastern Conference this season. My only argument against Casey would be that he has two superstars and a way better team than the Hornets in terms of talent. They were supposed to be good.

    Gregg Popavich would also be considered for the award this season. He probably deserves a lot more than three coaches of the year awards over his 20 years of coaching the San Antonio Spurs but if they haven’t given it to him more than that then they probably won’t this season. He has had the same core players for year and always has a great team.

    The Charlotte Hornets weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs this year. They overcame everyones expectations and even overcame major injuries to key players. The team was without starter, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, for all but seven games this season. They were also without Big Al Jefferson for 35 games this year.

    The team also had four new starters in their line-up this season. Big Al was placed on the Hornets’ bench and it helped the team immensely. Players like Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller had career years in the starting line-up. While, Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum who led the team and had the best seasons of their careers as well.

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    Clifford clearly deserves to be the Coach of the Year in this NBA this season. He has been the best coach in the league. I don’t expect him to win because the national media won’t give him the love or votes that he deserves. Steve Clifford has solidified his name as one of the best in the NBA and he should win the Coach of the year Award this season.