The league also announced finalists for the Coach of the Year Award and perhaps in a bit of a surprise, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was not on the list.
The three finalists named were Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks, Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors, and Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder. All three certainly have their cases for the award and are deserving.
Budenholzer, last year’s winner, had the Bucks on an even higher win pace this season, while Nurse did the same for the Raptors despite losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Meanwhile, Donovan has done an excellent job, taking the Thunder, who many believed would be one of the league’s worst teams, and leading them to the playoffs.
Vogel had his argument to be in the conversation as well after leading the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference in his first year on the job. There was a ton of pressure on Vogel after the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis in the offseason.
Additionally, Vogel was the Lakers’ second choice after they failed to come to terms with Tyronn Lue. The hiring of Jason Kidd as lead assistant led many to wonder if Vogel was on borrowed time.
Nonetheless, Vogel immediately the Lakers on the same page as the team bought in to his signature defense while also evolving his offensive style to fit this new era of basketball. The result was a Lakers team that ranked in the top-5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Vogel may not have missed out on being a finalist for the Coach of the Year Award, but the job he did for this team has not gone unnoticed by the players and the fans.
Vogel believes awards aren’t on players’ minds
Though Vogel wasn’t named a finalist for Coach of the Year, the Lakers did have two players named for for their own awards. LeBron James is a finalist for MVP, and Anthony Davis was named a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
James was listed alongside Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Houston’s James Harden for MVP. Davis, along with Antetokounmpo and Utah’s Rudy Gobert, are the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year.
Surely winning the award will be a great accomplishment for James and Davis, but Vogel doesn’t believe those are on the minds of the players just yet.
“I think when the time comes they may be anticipating and we all will be hopeful they get those awards, but I believe that’s a long ways away. It’s really not on anybody’s mind right now,” he said.
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