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Doc Rivers Finishes 13th in Coach of the Year Voting

 

It was a tough season for the Boston Celtics, and that includes for head coach Doc Rivers. The long-time coach battled to find the right fit for a lot of new pieces that were both underperforming and/or failed to pick up his schemes on both ends of the floor. Naturally, an unfortunate plethora of injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Leandro Barbosa, and Kevin Garnett limited Rivers’ abilities as well.

There was also the incredible challenge of integrating four new average-to-below-average players in the middle of the season, and losing one of the team’s respected veterans (Jason Collins) during the middle of the season. Doc had his highs and lows, but he worked hard as always in a challenging situation.

Rivers helped Boston manage the storm well once Rondo went down and assisted in turning a season around in February with a revamped and simplified offensive scheme, which will hopefully carry over to future seasons. Ultimately, the C’s finished with just above a .500 record, which is probably exactly where they were expected to be, with the limited healthy talent they had to work with this year.

Due to this, Doc Rivers received a 2nd and 3rd place vote for NBA coach of the year voting, and finished 13th overall out of those nominated. Who finished in front and behind him though in the voting?

Coach 1st 2nd 3rd Total
George Karl, Den 62 26 16 404
Erik Spoelstra, Mia 24 17 19 190
Mike Woodson, NY 6 28 13 127
Gregg Popovich, SA 11 16 17 120
Frank Vogel, Ind 3 11 12 60
Lionel Hollins, Mem 6 4 13 55
Mark Jackson, GS 3 6 14 47
Tom Thibodeau, Chi 2 7 9 40
Kevin McHale, Hou 1 3 3 17
P.J. Carlesimo, Bkn 1 1 - 8
Vinny Del Negro, LAC 1 1 - 8
Larry Drew, Atl 1 - 1 6
Doc Rivers, Bos - 1 1 4
Scott Brooks, OKC - - 3 3

We’ll have plenty more on Rivers’ season in the coming weeks here at the Hub. He will be evaluated by us and a grade will be given. As we wonder whether Rivers will be back for another full season though, I open it up to you guys. How was Rivers’ coaching effort? Did the pros (developing Sullinger, getting back to postseason without Rondo/slow start, revamped offense) outweight the cons (questionable rotations, bad offense again)?

There are valid cases to be made on both sides of the fence, so I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

  • KB1

    Personally, I have always had a respect for Doc but last couple of seasons I have really struggled with his judgement on rotations. He developed Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger over the last couple of years purely due to lack of bodies. I'm not sure if these guys would have ever gotten a chance otherwise despite being first rounders. Doc has been TERRIBLE at developing talent. As aforementioned, his rotations have been very questionable. Expecting 40+ productive minutes from PP or KG is asking a lot, especially for multiple games. Perhaps the wound is still fresh after the end of the season, but using guys like Shavlik Randolph and Terrence Williams (earlier in the playoffs) could have only helped. I think those guys would have been productive themselves while allowing KG and PP to be even more productive with a few extra minutes of rest. I think the series against the Knicks was definitely winnable and Doc got out-coached by Mike Woodson big time over the first 2 games. Stagnating offense, running PP isos every possessions are all on Doc according to me. He never really figured out how to use JET in ways he would have been useful and almost ran nothing for Brandon Bass who has a sick mid-range game. By OVER-relying on his 2 vets, he ensured we didn't have a chance in the series.

    Lastly, he could have done some experimenting towards the end of the season by using the end of the bench a bit more just to see what could work. Jordan Crawford should play at least a few mins each game to see what he can do, JET should be used in p&r's, Terrence Williams and Shavlik Randolph deserve playing time and Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass could be used more effectively as well. Rebounding and offense issues have been around for a few years now to be blamed on more than just personnel. Ever since Tom Thibodeau left, I think there has been a drop in efficiency in all areas (not much in defense oddly enough).

    I give him a C+ for this season.

    • MSTRKRFT

      I agree with your sentiments, and I don't want to write up the same thing I have been writing up over and over again — we pretty much have the same opinion. I am glad more fans see it this way, it is a breath of fresh air. I just want to address 2 points:

      "Rebounding and offense issues have been around for a few years now to be blamed on more than just personnel." Danny has been trying to get a good big man, but the problem is there simply wasn't a affordable good big man. Players like Dwight and Lopez got big multiyear contracts that we could never afford. We are already over the cap and paying the luxury tax. Danny's hands are tied, and he drafted Sully, who was a red flag and unfortunately went down with the injury. Fab is a project, but like you said, in Doc's system, he will always remain a project. An important point to address is, we are not too bad in terms of defensive rebounding (according to regular season stats), its the offensive rebounding that we are the worst at and as a result, we are one of the worst in general. When asked in the press about the offensive rebounding woes, Doc said it wasn't important and he doesn't really believe in it and that is not the reason we are losing. Really? I guess proof is in the pudding and our eyes not not deceived.

      "Ever since Tom Thibodeau left, I think there has been a drop in efficiency in all areas (not much in defense oddly enough)." It is pretty simple actually. Thibs was with us for many years, and we ingrained his defensive playbook into our core guys. The core remained the same, with some new role players coming in and going out. KG has anchored it, and we never dropped his defensive plays just because he left. Why should we? It has always been effective. On the opposite spectrum, the offense is a mess and it hasn't been addressed in years.

  • hax

    Carlesimo beating Rivers, wow.
    I think the first 4 coaches don't deserve top 5. Jackoson with warriors, thib with bulls, hollins with grizz, have completely changed the aura of those franchises with lockdown defense. vogel with indy too!

    • Josh_5

      In no order, this year I liked Karl, Hollins, Thibodeau and Jackson.

  • hydrofluoric

    Aside from GK winning, I think it's a pretty fair shakedown (with the usual WTF? at Vinny Del Negro getting a 1st place vote, etc). Doc is at his best when he's got latent talent backed into a corner. This time the Celtics didn't hit that "backed into a corner" stage until they lost Rondo, at which point they didn't have enough latent talent left.

  • Josh_5

    I think Doc Rivers is a great coach. That being said, I do believe his short comings are due to the "stubborn player" in him. I think Doc relates great to players and understands their view because he is a former player but that also hurts him when it comes to X's & O's and rotation strategy. When a man decides to coach, he HAS TO separate playing from coaching. Doc needs to try (may be impossible) to incorporate more cerebral strategy into his coaching style. He needs to try ween himself off the "former player" stubbornness.

  • Pauper

    Maybe it's just me but I watch the Spurs and I wonder why we aren't as good. KG is run into the ground while Duncan stays fresh and efficient the whole season. The Spurs still beat lesser teams with Parker out and even when Parker and Manu are both out. We go on huge losing streaks even with Pierce and KG playing. I don't think their talent is better than ours but Pop seems to find a way to develop his players and give them confidence. There is no hesitation when Danny Green is free to shoot it. The same with Leonard. Our guys not named Rondo, Pierce, and KG seem to all hesitate. JG probably got into that group late in the season but he's not a role player. When Leonard was matched against Jarrett Jack in the post, they went right into him instead of deferring to Parker or Manu. We had Novak covering Bass and no one even bothered to look at him instead we go into Pierce ISO.

    Sorry for the long rant, but some of these things bother the hell out of me.

    • Josh_5

      Your not alone in this thinking. I agree completely.

      • GymRat

        Ditto

        • janos

          hi rat is janos
          are you support other team this playof as nbaceltics are do a loose? i am enjoy watch warior myself. bulll is heart team hope they are beat heat good
          i was away couple day pick up lot more shift warehouses boss is say he happy nba celtics are done so i can do the job hour more i was just smile but on inside thinking go to the hell buddy
          okay thank you

          • GymRat

            Hey Janos! I've watched every game in every series so far. I definitely miss our Celtics, and now find I am rooting for "anybody but the Heat". I really like Golden State (Steph Curry is amazing), but I'm hoping that San Antonio wins since I think they will be a tougher matchup for the Heat.

            The Bulls are like the Celtics little brother to me. They are a pain in the ass, but I love their heart and fight and Thibs is amazing, so I'm really hoping they can pull off a miracle and the upset.

            Thanks for asking. You're one of my favorite posters on here.

      • janos

        is good think

    • MSTRKRFT

      You are right in your thinking. On paper, we had arguably the best bench in the league. We were supposed to sure contenders, because last year we took Heat to game 7 in the ECF with a rubbish bench. It is apparent that it is not the lack of talent that prevented us from emerging from the first round, it was the mismanagement of the talent, rotations, development, and personnel integration.

      I have been bringing up the Spurs team as an example in the past as well, because Pop was given a bunch of no names and he found them their roles and they play it well. KG was battling hip injury and bone spurs on both ankles during the playoffs, and I honestly am not sure how he even managed to squeeze out 40 minutes a game. He is a fighter and his mental fortitude to come over pain is incredibly strong. Look at the effect bone spurs had on Ray Allen last year, yet KG was pulling down like 17, 18 rebounds a game. If Doc is expecting KG to play those minutes again next year, I don't blame him for taking a step back and saying "No thanks!".

  • W2.

    Spurs have a better and deeper roster, a superior general manager, a more accomplished coach.

    • Pauper

      We're not going to get better if we refuse to learn from others. It was obvious to everyone we were challenged this year with PP and KG a year older and certainly when Rondo went down that we could not win a championship without one or multiple other players becoming big contributors but we still refused to let anyone other than our top players get any plays run for them or take advantage of mismatches. We basically bet that Pierce and KG could carry us and to say that was a long shot or moronic bet would be an understatement. The worst part of all of this is that Doc can coach and coach the hell out of a team but his stubbornness about riding veterans wasn't the right call for this team. Pop got on Manu for a lousy three in game one but it does seem that Doc has blind loyalty to Pierce even though he's usually the "hero" when Doc talks about "hero" ball.

      • GymRat

        Great points.

        There was no realistic chance this team was going to win the title, let alone make a serious run. The better approach would have been to develop the players that Doc felt could be contributors next season, and actually give PP and KG very limited minutes to spare them the wear and tear of a full season. I can't imagine with that approach we do any worse than barely above .500 and we give guys the chance to grow into the players we really needed them to be in the post season and the coming years.

        Doc not giving Shavlik any minutes in the post season and expecting T-Will and Crawford to perform in big games after hardly being in the rotation was criminal and made no sense.

  • GymRat

    The year end awards are really silly to be honest. It's often a popularity contest, and most voters seem to take the easy route by routinely giving the vote to whoever had the best record.

    I agree with Karl winning first. But Erik Spoelstra – really? It's lazy voting and pure popularity. The Heat actually under performed this season IMO. 66 games is not that impressive when you consider how historically weak the eastern conference is right now and how stacked their team is. The 2008 Celts matched that total when the conference was much tougher. The great Laker, Celtic and Bull teams all won more games. This season all of the top teams in the league delt with major injuries or roster changes while the Heat were one of the healthiest teams all season and added a future hall of famer, a previous all-star and a Mr. Hustle to an already deep team now with three years together. That's not coaching. That's having a great GM.

    Meanwhile Scott Brooks gets no credit for OKC's franchise best season, despite losing an all-star and likely all NBA first teamer. I personally don't think Brooks is a good coach, but it just shows you there is no logic or reason to the voting. Why is he so low? What the heck is the criteria?

    Mark Jackson deserved to be in the top 2 – 3. He has dramatically revamped that franchise and was forced to play without Bogut all season and still managed to lead them to their best season in years.

    Thibs and Pop were also stellar, piecing together impressive records with constant injuries and roster changes.

    I wish they would wait until the playoffs are over (since the playoffs are the "real" season anyway) to vote on all the awards. Mark Jackson or Thibs would win coach of the year (deservedly so) for their incredible post season runs and Steph Curry would be the first unanimous MVP, followed by Durant.

    It makes no sense to award those things based only on the regular season, unless you are going to give a separate set of awards for the post season other than the finals.

  • GymRat

    ON DOC

    I've weighed in on him many times, so to avoid redundancy I'll briefly say he is a solid coach. But I don't see him as a good fit for the teams current needs. He would be great with Miami where he can just motivate players and manage egos. But this team needs somebody like a George Karl or Thibs or Pop (easier said than done I know). But basically somebody who can get the most out of the least.

    This post season Thibs is really showing off what an incredible coach he is. Can you imagine Doc winning with Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, and Jimmy Butler as his starters?

    I honestly think if Thibs coached this years squad we would have had the leagues best D, and guys like Shav, DJ White and T-Will would have gotten major run.

    I truly love Doc and appreciate all he's given to this organization. But he never figured out how to make a team out of this years roster and that, at the end of the day, is his job. 13th overall is pretty acurate.

  • Cornbread

    The past few years it seems we have absolutely no way to consistently score in important games. We have epic dry spells offensively, of the likes I have not seen in 35 years following the NBA. It seems different offensive schemes, rotations, etc., should be tried, but it's the same old thing — every year we get into the playoffs and CANNOT score. This is coaching for the most part, as we have seen radical movement in the roster over the past 4 years, with the same results. Doc, as much as I love him, has to take the rap for this.

  • elroz

    BUT ESPN EXPERTS RANKED DOC AS 3RD BEST COACH IN NBA …ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO CHECK IT OUT, VISIT THE ESPN ARTICLE…DOC FINISHED 3RD.

  • elroz

    Gregg Popovich 690
    Tom Thibodeau 433
    Doc Rivers 262
    Rick Carlisle 169
    Erik Spoelstra 131
    George Karl 72
    Rick Adelman 39
    Lionel Hollins 38
    Frank Vogel 20
    Mike Woodson 8
    Mark Jackson 5
    Scott Brooks 4
    Kevin McHale 1

  • Jim

    Between Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau I take Thibs in a second. Doc could not coach Nate Robinson but look at what Thibodeau has done with half of a team. Doc bows to his veterans way too much. I am so tired of Pierce in the iso at the game on the line time. It has become way too predictable. He relied on Jason Terry all season and the guy never came through until the playoffs. Why he does not develop his bench and younger players has always been an issue with him. I love him as a coach with heart but he needs to recognize that he has to change with the game as other coaches have done..

  • stk

    Doc gets compared to Pop an awful lot. I feel he suffers by comparison, as Pop rests players more often and uses a larger rotation. Granted, Pop has a better roster. Mark Jackson just beat the coach of the year in a head to head w/o home court and his best front line player hurt, so not sure this award amounts to all its cracked up to be, but I do respect george karl, as I respect Doc. Even though i dont like the way Doc manages the rotation, I think he’s a class act. Not his best season, but I wouldn’t trade him for any other active coach. I’d be equally happy with Tibs….

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