The NBA season hasn’t quite hit its halfway point just yet, but it’s quickly approaching the All-Star Break. The league and fans can already begin to understand the path certain teams will take this year, allowing an analysis for the Coach of the Year Award to begin. As of now, there are four coaches leading the race.
NBA Coach of the Year Rankings
Two Great Candidates Who May Fall Short
Two fantastic candidates who would fall just short right now are Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns and Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks.
The Suns are hot right now and sitting pretty at fifth in the Western Conference. Sure, they were able to add Chris Paul to their young nucleus with rising stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but coaching has played a large role.
Williams has been a major reason for the growth of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. They are now bonafide role players. Players with lesser roles around the league for years have also flourished – such as Cameron Payne and Langston Galloway. Adding a veteran like Jae Crowder is also helping Williams a ton. He has Phoenix looking like a potential darkhorse.
Thibodeau has the Knicks looking semi-relevant. That hasn’t been said for years. Of course, Thibodeau had success with the Chicago Bulls in the past, but no one expected the Knicks to be in the playoff race. They’re now sixth in the Eastern Conference.
New York’s defense is absolutely fantastic – and this is due to Thibodeau’s coaching and style of play. More than that, Julius Randle looks like an All-Star. The youngsters look good for New York as well, and Immanuel Quickley looks like a true draft steal. Thibodeau could be building something very special (by recent Knicks standards, at least).
Top Two Coach of the Year Candidates
The two leading the race are Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers and Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz.
Rivers came to Philadelphia and immediately addressed the team’s biggest need with shooting. He played a role in acquiring Seth Curry and Danny Green. Curry has been underlooked as “the other Curry” for far too long and is showing the league how lethal he truly is.
There’s also the Joel Embiid factor. He’s been in the borderline-superstar conversation for a couple of years now, but at this pace, Embiid could very well win the league Most Valuable Player Award. Rivers also has him meshing with Ben Simmons quite well. The 76ers are first in the Eastern Conference.
Snyder is the clear frontrunner for the Coach of the Year right now. Utah is first in the Western Conference and in the entire league. What makes this more impressive is it comes after a relatively quiet offseason when it comes to new players. The only new addition that’s a rotation mainstay is Derrick Favors (coming back after a stint away). Donovan Mitchell is finding himself in the MVP conversation, whereas Rudy Gobert is a frontrunner for the Defensive Players of the Year Award.
Utah is a well-oiled machine and a matchup nightmare for any team on both sides of the floor.
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