BOSTON (CBS) — Celtics head coach Brad Stevens didn’t get much love last year when it came to the NBA’s Coach of the Year award.
NBA writers gave the title to Dwane Case, who was no longer employed by the Toronto Raptors at the time. Fellow NBA coaches took the absurdity a step further, and didn’t even put Stevens in the running.
But as the 2018-19 season inches closer, NBA general managers are drinking the Stevens kool-aid. In the 17th annual NBA.com GM survey, Stevens received 47 percent of the votes for the league’s best head coach, ahead of San Antonio legend Gregg Popovich (who received 82 percent of the votes last season) and Golden State’s Steve Kerr.
The Celtics are enjoying an off day on Wednesday, but there’s a good chance a humble Stevens will tell reporters that he’s actually one of the worst coaches in the NBA on Thursday. That is, if he’s done ripping the porous defense the Celtics have played during the preseason.
Stevens also received a lot of love elsewhere on the survey, receiving 53 percent of the votes as the head coach who makes the best in-game adjustments. He finished second behind Utah’s Quin Snyder for the coach with the best defensive scheme (receiving 30 percent of the votes), and third as the league’s best manager/motivator and as the coach who runs the league’s best offense.
So it would appear that if the Celtics can live up to the lofty expectations surrounding them over the next eight months, Stevens may actually (finally) snag a Coach of the Year award.
The Celtics only topped one of the other 48 questions that GMs were sent, with 90 percent of them believing the Celtics will be in the NBA Finals. Not many think they’ll be raising another banner this time next year though, as the Golden State Warriors are the overwhelming favorites to repeat, again, receiving 87 percent of the votes. The Celtics and Houston Rockets are behind them with seven percent each.
As for Boston’s promising young core, they finished second to the Philadelphia 76ers — 47 percent to 33 percent. The C’s also finished second in the “team most fun to watch” category, receiving 17 percent of the votes. The Warriors ran away with that one as well, earning 60 percent of the tallies.
Boston’s quest for Banner 18 begins next Tuesday night, Oct. 16, when they tip off the NBA season against the 76ers at TD Garden.