Season Preview: Denver Nuggets
Quietly, the Denver Nuggets have turned into an offensive juggernaut led by a budding superstar in center Nikola Jokic.
According to NBA general managers, Brad Stevens is the best coach in the league. In the 17th annual NBA.com GM survey, Stevens received 47 percent of the votes for the league’s best head coach, ahead of San Antonio Spurs five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich, who earned 82 percent of the votes last season.
Stevens led the Boston Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season, despite All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward missing the entire postseason.
Not only was Stevens selected as the league's best coach, he was also picked as the coach with the best in-game adjustments, receiving 53 percent of the vote. According to the survey, Stevens is the third-best manager/motivator of people, trailing Popovich and three-time champion Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors. NBA GM's believe Stevens runs the third-best offense in the league, trailing Kerr and Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni. Stevens was the runner-up in the voting for best defensive schemes, ranking behind Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz.
Stevens was snubbed in the voting for Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He finished third for the award, which was won by Dwayne Casey, the former coach of the Toronto Raptors and now head coach of the Detroit Pistons.
Last regular season, Stevens witnessed Hayward, the team’s purported second-best player and top two-way player, suffer a gruesome leg injury minutes into opening night. Later in the year, Irving went down with a season-ending knee injury after playing in just 60 games, while backup center Daniel Theis also saw his season cut short after 63 contests. In addition, Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each played in merely 54 of 82 games. And yet, the Celtics finished second in the Eastern Conference standings under the tutelage of Stevens.
The Celtics are favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Stevens deserves a lot of credit for that league-wide expectation.