Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson finished seventh in Coach of the Year Voting, according to Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times.
George Karl won the award, as his Denver Nuggets finished the regular season with the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Perhaps because the Nuggets lacked a “true” superstar, Karl earned some more recognition.
Jackson, meanwhile, led the Warriors to their first playoff berth in six years. After finishing the 2011-12 shortened season with a dreadful 23-43 record, Jackson coached the Warriors to a 47-35 mark in 2012-13.
So yeah, his seventh place finish is a bit of a surprise.
Jackson did collect three first place votes, but finished behind Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat), Mike Woodson (New York Knicks), Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs), Frank Vogel (Indiana Pacers) and Lionel Hollins (Memphis Grizzlies).
All six of those teams recorded at least 50 wins, which is indeed an admirable accomplishment. The difference, though, is that all six–OK, maybe not the Pacers— were projected to contend when the preseason predictions were released. The Warriors, well, weren’t.
It would be inaccurate to claim that Golden State’s roster is starved of talent. It’s loaded with talent, especially on the younger side. So, it wasn’t like Jackson didn’t have much to work with.
But as Thompson points out, Jackson was without his center (Andrew Bogut) for the majority of the first half. Bogut wasn’t a constant presence in Golden State’s lineup until the last few weeks of the season, missing the occasional game due to injury.
Jackson also lost a significant bench presence in Brandon Rush in the home opener, which forced him to use Harrison Barnes more frequently than perhaps initially desired.
Then to put the cherry on top, David Lee tore his right hip flexor in Game 1 of the first round. And not only did Jackson work through Lee’s absence, but he out-coached Karl to lead the Warriors past the Nuggets.
It’s hard to say whether Jackson should’ve won the Coach of the Year award. But it’s fairly easy to claim that he should’ve finished higher given the circumstances.