Why Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni was robbed in the Coach of the Year vote

Mike D'Antoni Houston Rockets (Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Mike D'Antoni Houston Rockets (Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni failed to receive any votes for the Coach of the Year, although he deserved consideration for the award.

To say that Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni entered the 2019-20 season with an abundance of uncertainties would be an understatement. D’Antoni and the Rockets weren’t able to come to terms on a contract extension, and the Rockets’ roster had changed significantly.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey made several moves that forced D’Antoni to make major adjustments this season. Morey first decided to move on from Chris Paul, in exchange for 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook, who didn’t fit D’Antoni and the Rockets’ 3-point heavy style of play.

Morey later decided to part with Clint Capela, in exchange for Robert Covington, which marked the birth of the small ball era in Houston. D’Antoni realized that Westbrook wasn’t nearly the long-range shooter Chris Paul was, meaning the Rockets could benefit from a shift in strategy.

The Rockets finished with the fourth-best record in the Western Conference, as they went 44-28, which went largely unnoticed. Rumors ran rampant throughout the season that the Rockets and D’Antoni were bound for a separation, yet the Rockets remained one of the best teams in the NBA’s toughest conference, which shows the masterful job D’Antoni did.

In spite of that, D’Antoni was left off the ballot for the annual Coach of the Year award.

Nick Nurse of course wins coach of the year. Brad Stevens received 1 second place and 2 third place votes. pic.twitter.com/n1cOxwrrLx

— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) August 22, 2020

Why Rockets’ D’Antoni got robbed in Coach of the Year vote

Granted, there’s no argument to be made for D’Antoni actually winning the award, but it seems rather odd that he didn’t receive any votes. This seems like even more of a slight considering the fact that Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle received votes, despite the Mavs finishing with a worse record than the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets won the same amount of games as the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Thunder coach Billy Donovan received votes for the award. Again, there’s no argument for D’Antoni winning the award, but it seems like a slight for him to not receive any consideration.

Especially considering the fact that the Rockets were able to ingratiate Westbrook into the offense while Harden still led the league in scoring and finished as an MVP finalist yet again. Westbrook finished with 27.2 points (7th-best) and seven assists (12th-best) in his first season under D’Antoni.

Westbrook turned in a career year under D’Antoni, as he posted career high in field goal percentage and scored at least 20 points in 36 consecutive games, which was also a career-best. D’Antoni was also able to get stellar seasons from Jeff Green and Ben McLemore, both of whom were viewed as has-beens around the league.

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It’s unclear what the criteria is for receiving Coach of the Year consideration, but D’Antoni deserved votes for the award. Especially considering that four of the coaches that received consideration had either the same number of wins or fewer than D’Antoni.