Avery Johnson Named NBA Coach of the Year

Avery Johnson, coach of the Dallas Mavericks, received the prestigious honor of Coach of the Year after leading his team to the playoffs.

The Mavericks are currently in the Western Conference Semifinals and they defeated the Memphis Grizzles in the first game of the series on Sunday.

Johnson received 63 first-place votes and 419 points. Phoenix’s Mike D’Antoni, the winner last year, was second with 27 first-place votes and 247 points, while Detroit’s Flip Saunders was third with 18 and 223, respectively.

After replacing Don Nelson as head coach on March 19, 2005, he reached 50 wins faster than any other coach (62 games) and recorded the best start by a first-time coach in league history by winning 66 of his first 82 games-the equivalent of a full season. Johnson became a Mavericks assistant coach before the 2004-05 season. He is 76-24 overall for this season.

AP reported that Johnson stressed the need to play better defense, the Mavericks yielded just 93.1 points per game this season and finished with a franchise record-tying 60 wins. Johnson needed just 62 games to reach 50 career wins, the fewest in NBA history, and set the best 82-game mark (66-16).

The Mavericks ranked higher in the defensive category with a franchise-low 93.1 points per game allowed. They also ranked in the league’s top 10 in scoring and points allowed. He also coached the Western Conference All-Star team this season

As a player, Johnson was undrafted and repeatedly released. He finally became the starting point guard on an NBA champion in San Antonio (1992-2001), and hit the title-clinching shot in 1999. He is the Spurs’ career leader in assists. Johnson played in 1,054 games over 16 NBA seasons, averaging 8.4 points and 5.5 assists a game, according to espn.com.