Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has managed to do the unthinkable this season. The Heat started this season off 11-30 with a .03 percent chance rating to making the playoff. The Heat have gone 23-5 since January 17th. Now the Heat are 354-36, a step away from .500 win percent (.493 to be exact), and a seventh seed in the playoffs is not out of reach. Thank you Erik Spoelstra!
One of the leaders in Goran Dragic sings high praises of his Head Coach. Dragic recently told the Palm Beach Post,
“He (Spoelstra) should be the Coach of the Year. He’s a phenomenal coach. Nobody expected us to bounce back like we did and especially in the beginning of the season, he put the system in that everybody was comfortable with.”
This is the overall feeling towards Spoelstra throughout the entire franchise. Even Heat President Pat Riley had encouraging words about the team’s progress,
“The prognosticators and a lot of people who judge, they could have judged very harshly at 11-30,” Riley said. “But we have a great base of young players that have performed and gained experience and we have a lot of flexibility going into the future.”
Back in December, Miami’s percentage for making the playoffs was approximately 15%. Now as of a few days ago, it’s nearly up to 50%. Miami ranks top fourth in both offense and defensive ratings this season. In addition, Miami has the second best net rating at +8.6 with a record of 14-5.
With the leadership of Dwyane Wade and other veterans like Joe Johnson and Luol Deng, the Heat ended the previous season 48-34. Up to January of 2016, Miami was 19-13. In the later half of the season towards March, Miami went 34-26. Wade missed a total of 8 games last season and again, they finished 48-34. That season’s performance was followed by two rounds in the post-season with a loss to the Toronto Raptors in seven hard fought games.
Coach Spoelstra has managed to once again, without Wade or any of the veterans listed above, get Miami back into playoff position and recover what was a lost season. As stated before, the Heat are .493 on their win-loss percentage and are currently in playoff position; holding the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Erik Spoelstra has taken charge of a lot of the problems that arose in Miami earlier and has helped the team close the season strong. If you still don’t think that Spoelstra is a good coach, he’s won 2 out of 4 championships (first team to do that since Lakers in 2009-10) and has gone to the playoffs every year except for the 2014-15 season. He’s been Head Coach in Miami for 9 years and he’s a capable coach and a top contender for this award.
“Erik has done a great job and whatever comes his way will comes his way,” Riley told the Palm Beach Post. “He’s a lot like me. The first time I got my Coach of the Year award I was embarrassed to go and get it because I got it with a team behind me of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, etc.”
Rodney McGruder has spent years trying to get into the league and now plays at an efficient level while logging 25 minutes a game. Wayne Ellington and Luke Babbit are now carrying the workload of guys like Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic or Eric Gordan and Louis Williams. James Johnson is having a career year in Spoelstra’s system. Dragic is also having a career year. Hassan Whiteside is flourishing and is in the race once again for First or Second All-NBA team and Defensive Player of the Year. Erik Spoelstra is the obvious Coach of the Year winner and is most deserving of it and I hope the NBA does the right thing and gives him the award.