When the league picks a coach of the year, it is often for at least one of these reasons below:
- The team is one of the best in the league.
- The team is winning its fair share of games against other elite teams.
- The team is winning more games than expected.
- The coach is in his or her first year on the job and is doing at least one of the above.
Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx
Why: The Lynx are 7-0 and are on track to have another great season. But unlike the last three seasons, the Lynx have had some major injury woes as Rebekkah Brunson, Monica Wright, and Dev Peters have all missed games. Additionally, Brazilian rookie post Damiris Dantas has been a very pleasant surprise. Without her play, I don't see Minny being undefeated.
Why not: If the Lynx win less than 26 games for the 2014 season, I find it hard to see Reeve winning the award.
Pokey Chatman, Chicago Sky
Why: Like the Lynx, the Sky have had multiple players miss games due to injury or other reasons, including Epiphanny Prince and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles. They are undefeated this season in all games where they did not face the Minnesota Lynx. That includes the preseason.
Furthermore, Chatman was a leading candidate to win the award in 2013, but lost in a close race to Mike Thibault of the Washington Mystics. So if she can keep the Sky winning at a high rate this season, Chatman could win the award this time if it is a close race.
Why not: So far, the Sky's record could be inflated because every game they have played has been at home, except for one win over the New York Liberty at the Garden back on May 17. Chicago will eventually have its fair share of long road trips, so perhaps it's a little early to say.
Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury
Why: Brondello has led the Mercury to a 4-1 start. This matches a franchise best five game start from 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2009. Their team has also improved significantly defensively, which has been an area of concern over the past several seasons with previous coaching regimes. Since she is doing this in her first year on the job, that also gives her a leg up towards winning this award.
Why not: The Mercury is a talent laden roster, and some people may be thinking that this team should be in line to win it anyway. People who are thinking this way are not as likely to vote for her.
Mike Thibault, Washington Mystics
Why: The Mystics are 4-2 as of now, good for second in the Eastern Conference. They are one of the youngest teams in the WNBA. And they have won games with considerable contributions coming from their rookies and sophomores. There are seven rookies and sophomores on the 2014 team, six if you exclude Tayler Hill. Finally, many did not consider this team to be a playoff contender, primarily because of the youth.
If the Mystics are a Top-2 seed for this year's playoffs, then Thibault must be seriously considered for this award for the second straight year.
Why not: Thibault won the 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year award for a 17-17 team. If the Mystics are 17-17 or 18-16 this season, it probably will not be enough, even with a younger roster. The Mystics will probably need to be at least a 20-win team this season for him to get the votes needed to win the award in consecutive seasons.
The season is still young, but these four coaches appear to have a good shot at winning the award. Who is your 2014 WNBA Coach of the Year? Vote in the poll below!