Golden State Warriors rookie Steve Kerr should win Coach of the Year.
He's constructing an air-tight case for the honor, starting before his Western Conference Coach of the Month anointment. Undoubtedly a distinctive achievement for Kerr, and one that hasn't landed in Golden State's lap since the league recognized Don Nelson in 2007. Kerr's start as a rookie coach with the W's is the best in NBA history.
Then there's that part of Kerr and his staff coaching the Western Conference All-Stars. That'll further propel him into classic company. Larry Bird, Paul Westphal, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Chris Ford are a few who have led an All-Star team in their first year as head coach.
Oh, and the Warriors are currently the league's best team with a 42-9 record. Kerr's one of only two head coaches ever to begin his NBA career with at least 42 wins through 51 games
All accomplishments combined; it makes the popular comparisons moot. Indeed, Kerr's coaching style has been built on experience from his time as a player under the likes of Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. However, Kerr's no simple clone. His performance through the Warriors franchise best first 45 games says that much. It doesn't necessarily seal the debate for Kerr, but it's a pretty good start in an adolescent career.
They haven't been more visibly post season bound than now; the only impediment being themselves. Golden State leads the league in win percentage (82.2), field goal percentage (48.3), assists (27.2), points (110.8) and point differential (11.2). They're firing on all cylinders, and it's undeniable that Kerr's served as an enabler of sorts. He's the lynchpin in the Warriors display of dominance and for the most part consistency.
A quick browse of the Warriors season statistics opens the Coach of the Year conversation and starts with Kerr. For the moment and the foreseeable future, his decision to shun New York and embrace the warmth and hardwood readiness in Northern California has paid off. That much is crystal clear, even if only half of the season is over (the actual measuring stick's applied at the end of 82).
Golden State will play beyond 82 games, and at the moment all signs point to them playing further than previous definitions of "well-beyond". And if four losses in their last 10 games is any indication of this team slowing down, it's a lukewarm signal at best.
Or you can attribute those three L's to Kerr unveiling more of the Warriors offense -- on tired legs. Up to this point, they've elected to execute and strive for efficiency, rather than experiment. With losses to teams that have seemed to simply "figure it out", Kerr will have to open up more of the playbook. While teams and coaches have typically shown their hand by half of the season, perhaps there's more greatness that awaits from Kerr.
That's not to suggest the Warriors current offensive and defensive philosophies are overly lucid, so much to the detriment of the team. In many ways, it's a compliment to Kerr. Teams are paying attention (more than ever), and to further what's been a franchise best in positive momentum, the W's will need to be less predictable. The responsibility of which, falls squarely on Kerr's shoulders.
Either way, there's not much drop off to be expected. We'll find out soon if his coaching acumen is currently running on half a tank, or if the W's will coast on what's brought them here. Both routes lead back to what's already been an impressive debut for Kerr. At this point, it would take complete team regression to detach Kerr from the Coach of the Year award. Knock-on-wood and Oracle forbid.
Despite an end-goal yet to be fulfilled, Kerr's currently the favorite -- and rightfully so.