Coach of the Year
DJ: Eric Spoelstra, Miami Heat
The Miami Heat wildly surpassed expectations this past year, even after acquiring All-NBA talent Jimmy Butler. Spoelstra helped Bam Adebayo take a jump, managed to get contributions from young players such as Nunn and Herro, AND took Duncan Robinson from average college player to NBA starter.
PF: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
Nurse led the Raptors to the NBA title last season, but should win coach of the year this year. After losing Kawhi Leonard, The Raptors are the two-seed in the East and have a great chance to potentially win back-to-back championships thanks to Nurse’s steady leadership.
PL: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
This year, the race for this award is tight. Coach’s like Billy Donovan and Erik Spoelstra have exceeded expectations with their teams and have proven to be real threats. However, I’m going to give this one to Nick Nurse because he has shown that the Raptors can be dominant without Kawhi Leonard. After winning the championship last year and losing Leonard, some people had low expectations and Nurse has proved that they are still a team to fear.
TW: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
No coach has won Coach of the Year since Hubie Brown in 2004, so instead of Mike Budenholzer I’m going with Nick Nurse. The Raptors give off sort of a 2011 Mavericks vibe. They’re not quite as old as the 2011 Mavs were, and I also wouldn’t pick them to win the title. But to bounce back this well after losing Kawhi Leonard was impressive.
NA: Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
Billy Donovan lost Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the offseason. He only inherited half of last year’s playoff team. His team acquired Chris Paul, who had his agent explore every avenue to NOT play for the Thunder this season. Despite all this, Billy Donovan’s squad sits in 5th place in a loaded Western Conference with a record of 40-24. There have been many situations where an unhappy player derails an entire season (see Minnesota Timberwolves, 2018-2019), but Billy Donovan has managed to get the most out of his players this season. He is very deserving of this award.
ZL: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
I went back and forth on this one but I have to give the award to the Toronto Raptors’ Nick Nurse. Toronto lost Kawhi Leonard after their memorable title run and yet Nurse hasn’t allowed his team to lose a step this season. Toronto has remained in the top tier of contending teams and they owe a lot of that success to Nurse.
AJ: Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
I may be a little bias on this one but what more can you say about Rick? He took a 33-49 team last year, 14th in the west, and before COVID-19 hit, were 40-27. That’s already 7 more wins in 15 less games and 7th in the great Western conference. I’d say that’s more than deserving.
Nick Nurse (4), Eric Spoelstra (1), Billy Donovan (1), Rick Carlisle (1)