McHale 9th in Coach of Year voting

McHale 9th in Coach of Year voting
May 8, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Denver's George Karl is the 2013 NBA Coach of the Year, but Kevin McHale was recognized in the voting.

The Rockets head coach finished ninth in the voting, gathering one first-place vote, three second-place votes and three third-place votes.

McHale led Houston to a 45-37 record and a playoff berth that was unexpected by many. Houston was in the even more unexpected position late in the year to land with the Western Conference's sixth seed, although they eventually finished in the eighth spot.

To put these expectations into perspective, Bovada had opening odds of the Rockets' finishing the season at 30-52 instead of the resulting 45-37 record. Granted, these odds were released before James Harden was acquired, but even after the Rockets made the Harden trade, most did not expect all the new players to mesh quite as quickly as they did, given that eventually, this roster was left with only two players (Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith) from the previous season. The Rockets had to also re-adjust their on-court chemistry midseason after trades of both of their top power forwards, Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris.

McHale helped guide the Rockets to an up-tempo style where the Rockets finished second in the league in scoring. Their 106 points per game were just off Denver's 106.1 pace. On a personal note, this was a tough season for McHale. He took a leave of absence in November to tend to his 23-year-old daughter Sasha, who died of lupus-related complications. Amidst the tough times, McHale came back and finished the season.

Not only did he finish the season, but he was the coach of the youngest team in the NBA and the sixth youngest to ever make the NBA playoffs. The Rockets opened up eyes in the basketball world for their battle back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Thunder, taking OKC to six games before bowing out. Notable adjustments were made as McHale switched to a smaller lineup after the Rockets had lost Game 1. The resulting quicker pace and increased spacing were major factors in how the rest of the series played out.

From late in the season, after the Rockets had clinched a playoff berth, Jeremy Lin offered the following when asked about his thoughts on McHale and the trials that the coach had to overcome:

"Coach has been through a lot," Lin said. "No one knows exactly what he's been through - none of the players. We haven't been through a tragedy like that, but I remember every time I feel like things are going rough on my end, I always try to think about Coach. You know, how he has to show up to work every day with a smile on his face, get to work even though he had to mourn the death of a loved one. Just his determination to come back as quickly as he came back and join the team, things like that, we've all grown to really respect him for that."

For Karl, this is his first time winning NBA Coach of the Year. His Nuggets finished 57-25, only three games back of the best record in the West. Denver finished third in the Western Conference.

Complete voting:

Coach Team 1st-place votes 2nd 3rd Total
George Karl Denver 62 26 16 404
Erik Spoelstra Miami 24 17 19 190
Mike Woodson New York 6 28 13 127
Gregg Popovich San Antonio 11 16 17 120
Frank Vogel Indiana 3 11 12 60
Lionel Hollins Memphis 6 4 13 55
Mark Jackson Golden State 3 6 14 47
Tom Thibodeau Chicago 2 7 9 40
Kevin McHale Houston 1 3 3 17
P.J. Carlesimo Brooklyn 1 1 0 8
Vinny Del Negro LA Clippers 1 1 0 8
Larry Drew Atlanta 1 0 1 6
Doc Rivers Boston 0 1 1 4
Scott Brooks Oklahoma City 0 0 3 3