There are coaches with better records. There are others with more experience. But for the job he's done with the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season, head coach Pat Delany deserves to win the NBA D-League's "Coach of the Year" award.
Finishing at 31-19, the Skyforce are tied with two other top playoff contenders for the second best record in the league. What's more, Sioux Falls' 19-6 record at home was the best of its kind in all of the NBADL. En route to securing home court advantage for the first round of the postseason, the Skyforce finished the season off on a six game winning streak.
After serving in a number of different capacities for the Miami Heat over the last decade plus, Coach Delany was recognized as the man with the plan following the formation of the team's one-to-one affiliation with Sioux Falls.
Head coach of the minor league team has been a role Coach Delany has embraced whole-heartedly. He understands that such an opportunity is one for him to learn and experience new things, just as much as it is one for these players to develop as well.
After spending so much time around bonafide superstars and proven NBA champions like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, etc., it would be easy to understand why one wouldn't spend as much time focusing on "development." That said, such attention to the finer details of the game hasn't been lost in Sioux Falls.
In addition, the coach's experience with such players probably provided him with greater exposure to the bigger egos and/or more colorful personalities the NBA has to offer. Understanding how to properly and/or best motivate such players likely goes a long towards success on any level.
This season, the success of the Skyforce has been spearheaded by the likes of DeAndre Liggins and Henry Walker, two NBA veterans whose potential achievement in The Association have been clouded and/or otherwise prevented by some off the court troubles.
Each player is widely considered an NBA player by many around the league, but as each one aims to prove they've changed their ways, the waiting game can undoubtedly take a toll on one's focus. Aside from Liggins and Walker, many of Sioux Falls' more talented players have failed to break in (or stick, rather) to the NBA at some point or another. Still, that also means that a good handful of them are rather close to doing so, as well.
Having said that, motivating such a group to hone in and try to achieve some together for the greater good of the group can often prove to be a tricky task, especially in the NBA D-League. For that, Coach Delany should be commended. His team has performed terrifically all season long.
Despite losing game one of their first-round playoff matchup against the Canton Charge, the Skyforce will look to bounce back and keep their postseason hopes alive when they return home for game two on Saturday night.