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Spoelstra, D’Antoni win NBCA Coach of Year Award

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The award, from the NBA Coaches’ Association, reflects the respect Spoelstra has earned from his peers.

NBA: Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni won the first-ever Michael H. Goldberg National Basketball Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year Award.

For Spoelstra, this award reflects respect from his peers. While the conventional wisdom on Spoelstra was that he either lacked creativity — especially following the criticism after Miami’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals — or merely benefitted from the talent of LeBron James, Spoelstra showed his prowess as a coach with a roster full of journeymen and unproven commodities outside of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside.

The Heat’s season appeared lost when they stood at 11-30 and Justise Winslow was out for the season. But Spoelstra recreated the Heat offense on the fly, utilizing James Johnson more and unleashing an offense that was deadly from 3-point range. It was similar to how he moved James to power forward (and eventually Chris Bosh to center) after Bosh’s injury in the 2012 NBA playoffs.

This respect for Spoelstra goes beyond other NBA coaches. In an interview with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, Kevin Durant said that Spoelstra has been one of the best coaches in the league for the last six years.

Who knew that Spoelstra would emerge as a potential draw for free agents looking to turn their careers around? With last season’s turnaround, maybe the next James Johnson or Dion Waiters will sign with Miami.