The NBA has named their coaches of the month for December 2012. The recipients for that month were Larry Drew of the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern Conference and Vinny Del Negro of the Los Angeles Clippers for the Western Conference.
The Hawks went 10-5 in December, which was highlighted by a tough win at Memphis on December 8th. This team wasn’t given much of a chance when they traded Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets and was thought of to be in the rebuilding phase. It’s turning out more and more to be an addition by subtraction.
The Hawks have been getting some steady play from Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague. Lou Williams, who came over from Philadelphia, has been a very good addition as well as Kyle Korver, who has given them another deep threat. The Hawks are currently third place in the East at 20-10 and are only a half-game behind the New York Knicks, who are holding down the second slot in the conference.
It goes without saying what the Clippers have done in the month of December. The Clippers went 16-0 in December, the first time an NBA team went through an undefeated month since the Houston Rockets went 13-0 in February 2008 (the Rockets went on to a 22-game winning streak, the second best in league history). While critics will charge that they already have two coaches on the floor with Chris Paul and the currently-injured Chauncey Billups and that they had an easy schedule, you’ve gotta hand it to Vinny Del Negro, who has grown as a coach and has done the right decisions when it comes to handling this deep team.
The Clips have been spurred by not only Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but by the improved play of DeAndre Jordan and the deadly bench that is led by Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes. Whether they had a tough schedule or not, the Clippers should be given credit for going undefeated in December. Vinny Del Negro should also be given credit for doing all the right moves for his team, even if it is to stay out of the way at times.
Congratulations to Larry Drew and Vinny Del Negro for winning Coach of the Month for their respective conferences. But remember that this doesn’t guarantee job security as Avery Johnson, who won November Coach of the Month in the East, was axed last week by the Brooklyn Nets.