In any given season, there are only eight plausible candidates for Coach of the Year. Realistically, that number is often far smaller. Why? Because every Coach of the Year winner since Scott Brooks in 2010 has led a top-four seed. This century, the only other coaches to win without finishing in the top four in their conference were Doc Rivers with the Magic in 2000 and Hubie Brown with the Grizzlies in 2004.
That doesn’t mean that finishing fourth is usually going to cut it, though. Between Brooks (Thunder) in 2010 and Mike Brown (Kings) last season, eight of the 12 winners coached No. 1 seeds. Nick Nurse (Raptors) coached a No. 2 seed in 2020, George Karl (Nuggets, 2013) and Mike D’Antoni (Rockets, 2017) won as No. 3 seeds and Tom Thibodeau (Knicks, 2021) won in fourth. Exclude shortened seasons and the average Coach of the Year over the past two decades has won an average of roughly 58 games. The higher your seed, the better your odds of winning this award. Here are a few more notes before we dive into this season’s odds:
Winning without a top seed means defying expectations. Brown won only 48 games last season, but he led the Kings to their first playoff berth in almost two decades. Thibodeau took over a Knicks team that spent seven straight years in the lottery and got them a top-four seed. If you don’t think a coach has a realistic chance at a top seed, the only reason to bet on him is the belief that he can overcome very low team expectations.No one has ever repeated as Coach of the Year (sorry Mike Brown) but plenty of coaches have won the award multiple times. Three have won the award three times, and eight more have won it twice. When in doubt, voters will often trust a track record.Take this for what it’s worth, but the last two winners have come from the Western Conference, while the previous four came from the East. Does this necessarily mean anything? No. But the general consensus across most of this century has been that the West has been the superior conference. This has slowly shifted in recent years. While the West has won…
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Author : Sam Quinn
Publish date : 2023-09-26 22:24:48
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