Ranking top 10 NBA coaches: Where Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni lands
8. Terry Stotts-Portland Trail Blazers
Terry Stotts has been the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers since the 2012-2013 season, as he actually beat out current Rockets defensive coordinator Elston Turner for the job. The Blazers have only missed the playoffs in one season out of the seven years Stotts has been at the helm. During that timespan, Stotts has dealt with the departures of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum, each of whom were key pieces for the Blazers, especially Aldridge.
Despite that, Stotts has been able to get the most out of the Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum duo, which is important because Portland will likely not be able to add any additional starpower outside of their backcourt. Stotts led Portland to 54 wins in his second season, which had only been accomplished one other time in Blazers’ history ever since the 1999-2000 season in which they won 59 games.
Stotts’ Blazers significantly over-achieved this past season, as they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Part of the reason for this is the fact that the Blazers finished with the third seed in the West, which was one seed higher than the Rockets. This meant that the Blazers wouldn’t have to face the Golden State Warriors until the Conference Finals. Nonetheless, they were able to defeat the second seeded Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals, which was a big upset, considering the fact that the Blazers were playing without starting center Jusuf Nurkic.
The Blazers lost Nurkic during the regular season to injury and were forced to play without him for the duration of the postseason. This can’t be forgotten, as Nurkic led the Blazers in blocks and rebounds, and was third on the team in scoring and assists.
All in all, the Blazers have finished no lower than the third seed in the Western Conference in each of the last two seasons.