According to Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley, Lionel Hollins is the early front-runner for NBA Coach of the Year while GM Chris Wallace is in the lead for the league's top executive. Well, duh. With the Grizzlies three games out of first place in their division and staying above water, to put it lightly, without their best player in tow, both certainly deserve much consideration for their respective awards.
You certainly have to credit Hollins for many things, namely sticking to his guns and leading the charge in developing Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to where they are among the top players at their respective positions. He also kept things moving when Rudy Gay returned and, yes, when Zach went down -- both moments had that, "What will this team now look like" feel to them. Then, there's the development of the bench. Guys like Quincy Pondexter, Dante Cunningham, and, of course, O.J. Mayo -- who, was at one time and another left for dead. For his ability to keep Mayo focused... bravo, sir.
And need we talk about how focused this team is on defense? I mean, wow. Of course, though, like any team there are some short-comings on the Grizzlies. But, no one is expecting perfection. What we hope for is to get the most out of our team, maximum effort. And that's what we have been getting. So there's no doubt that Hollins, at the very least, deserves some heavy consideration for Coach of the Year honors.
As for Wallace, sure, I suppose you can make the case... Surely, he's done a fine job, locking up Gasol was probably the best move he could have made (though, that really was a given, right?). Trading for Pondexter, getting Cunningham, making the move for Marreese Speights... all very good moves (and highly underrated). I think you can make the argument that he's worthy of consideration, sure. Sometimes, though, it's often over-looked when the best moves you've made as an executive was to get the likes of a Pondexter, Cunningham, etc. Not much flash or pizzazz there, to say the least. But all very important in this team's development.
Of course you can argue that really the best "move" Wallace has made over the past six months has been to remain patient and to stay on course. We're seeing that the pieces are there for us to make a run at the title. No, it's not a perfect team, but we're close. Really close. And that's in big part attributed to Wallace and his "steady as she goes" approach.
There's still along way to go in the season, so to speak, but both of our soldiers certainly deserve to be on that list for the highest honors at their respective positions. No doubt about it.