Willie (Portland, OR): Chad, will Portland make the playoffs?
SportsNation Chad Ford: It's tough with Utah and Houston behind them. I think both of those teams could play much better in the second half. But it's hard to argue with what the Blazers have been able to achieve. They've got a great young core and Nate McMillan, in my mind, should be the leading candidate for Coach of the Year.
That strikes me as a rather popular opinion outside of the Northwest. Young teams like the Blazers have been known to fade late in the season, but it seems like a significant leap of faith to assume that both Utah and Houston are going to miraculously play better in the second half. It could very well happen though.
As for the second Trail Blazers mention ...
George (Los Angeles, CA): Chad, I think Phil Jackson deserves coach of the year. ALL OF YOU were trashing the Lakers chances this year and despite the fact they've gone through a lot and have one of the youngest teams in the league, they're #1 in the west. How on earth can you overlook what he's done with this young team in the uber tough west, even though Portland is a feel good story? Typical ESPN. Typical ESPN - and you wonder why NBA fans question the biases over there.
SportsNation Chad Ford: The Lakers have won only 3 more games than the Blazers ... and they have Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Bynum. McMillan is doing it with two sophomores .. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge and a host of young role players. To me, Phil has MUCH MUCH more to work with.
So according to George, ESPN is biased against a team that plays in one of the biggest markets in the world? Now I've heard everything. ESPN doesn't love Kobe Bryant and constantly hype Bynum as the next super-center?
That strange opinion aside, there's no denying that Phil Jackson is a great coach. Easily one of the best in the history of the game, but a better candidate for Coach of the Year than Nate McMillan? That doesn't pass the smell test. As Ford aptly points out, for all the hoopla that's been made about the Lakers this season, they're exactly three games better than a team with the third-youngest roster in NBA history.
And by the way, the Lakers have a stretch coming up in which they play 12 of 13 games on the road. That's a tough road, even for KB24. If they make it through that trip and still hold the top spot in the West, then maybe you start taking about Jackson for COY.