Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was named the co-recipient of the NBA Coaches Association's Coach of the Year Award on Sunday.
The NBCA's Coach of the Year Award did not exist prior to this season and Spoelstra will share the honor with Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets. This could be just the first of multiple honors for Spoelstra this off-season.
The award could be one that touches Spoelstra in a significant way. Unlike many other honors, this award was given to him by his peers. The voting pool for the award consisted of the 30 NBA head coaches. After beginning his NBA career as a video coordinator, Spoelstra has become one of the most respected coaches in the league.
After a tough 11-30 start to the year, Miami remained alive in the playoff race until the final day of the season. The Heat were 30-11 after that disastrous start and became the first NBA team ever to reach .500 after starting 11-30. Due to games outside of their control, the Heat missed the playoffs on that last day.
The 2016-17 season for Miami was the beginning of a new chapter and Spoelstra turned out to be just the right man for the job. The long-time coach is known for getting the most out of his players and he did just that. Without Dwyane Wade, Miami had to find new options for clutch baskets. The Heat also needed to make the most of the roster that they had, which included a number of inexperienced players.
After success in 2016-17, Miami will begin next season with higher expectations. The return of Justise Winslow should help a team that lacked size at times. The Heat could also be active in the free-agent market and could also look into some trades. Miami has a strong core in place, but the team looks to improve each off-season regardless.
The NBA will also hand out a Coach of the Year Award on June 26th. Spoelstra could take home that honor as well, with D'Antoni and others in the running as well.