2. Willie Green – Coach of the Year (COY)
Two years ago, Willie Green was hired to be the New Orleans Pelicans head coach after the team parted ways with Stan Van Gundy. His tenure started out in a bumpy way – stumbling into a 3-16 start. However, to his credit, Green made sure the team never lost hope.
The Pelicans then proceeded to go 33-30 in their final 63 games. Their efforts were enough to earn a play-in spot. They defeated the San Antonio Spurs in their first tournament game. And then they overcame the Los Angeles Clippers in the second one – largely thanks to this inspirational speech prior to the start of the fourth quarter from Green.
Last season was ruined by injuries. But that shouldn’t change the fact that Green is a splendid coach. As the clip above highlights, Green is a motivating presence in the locker room, one who players love to play hard for.
In his first two years, Green hasn’t earned any serious COY buzz. But if the Pelicans can secure a top-4 seed in the West, the voting body will definitely take notice of the third-year coach’s positive impact on New Orleans.