Already having been named coach of the year by his peers, the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra is a finalist for the same award as voted upon by the media.
Two weeks ago, Spoelstra was named co-winner of the inaugural Michael H. Goldberg National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award, sharing the honor with Houston’s Mike D’Antoni. On Friday, it was revealed he is a finalist for the award that will be announced June 26 during the first ever NBA awards show that will be televised by TNT.
Spoelstra, D’Antoni and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich are the three finalists.
Finalists also were announced for Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man Award and Most Improved Player. The Heat were shutout of all player awards.
Forward James Johnson was a possible candidate for three of those awards – defensive player, sixth man and most improved. Johnson had a breakout season and now will be rewarded when he becomes a free agent July 1.
Guard Tyler Johnson (sixth man), forward Rodney McGruder (rookie) and center Hassan Whiteside (defensive player) also were in the conversation for league awards.
Spoelstra, 46, guided the Heat to the biggest turnaround in league history, going from 11-30 in the first half of the season to 30-11 in the second half. Miami is the only team in league history to finish at .500 after being 19 games under at some point during that season. The Heat tied with the Bulls for the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference but the final playoff spot went to Chicago because of the tie-breaker.
The coaches award was time first time Spoelstra was recognized as the league’s top coach in his nine-year career despite winning two titles and leading the Heat to four trips to the Finals.
The NBA Awards are chosen by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
Here are the finalist for the NBA awards:
Most Valuable Player: James Harden, Houston; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City.
Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni, Houston; Gergg Popovich, San Antonio; Erik Spoelstra, Miami.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert, Utah; Draymond Green, Golden State; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio.
Sixth Man Award: Andre Iguodala, Golden State; Eric Gordon, Houston; Lou Williams, Houston.
Most Improved Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Rudy Gobert, Utah; Nikola Jokic, Denver.
Rookie of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee; Joel Embid, Philadelphia; Dario Saric, Philadelphia.