Who will be named this season's Coach of the Year?
Ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season, our NBA.com Staff reveals their picks for the end-of-season award.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I'm going with Monty Williams.
I'm pretty high on the Phoenix Suns this season. It's hard not to be after they went 8-0 in the bubble, but they had one of the best offseasons in the league, trading for Chris Paul, signing Jae Crowder and filling out their bench with the likes of Langston Galloway, Damian Jones and E'Twaun Moore.
That's still not enough to put them in the same class as the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers, but they should absolutely be a playoff team, and it wouldn't shock me if the Suns are in the mix for homecourt advantage.
With Williams being the one pulling the strings, he's going to have a strong case for Coach of the Year if the Suns live up to their potential.
Toughest snub for me: Erik Spoelstra. It's crazy that he's never been named Coach of the Year.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm taking Doc Rivers.
After the LA Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals last season, Rivers received a ton of criticism as a head coach who is all too familiar with surrendering playoff-series leads. When he and the Clippers made the "mutual decision" to part ways and Rivers landed the 76ers job, I felt it was the perfect fit for him. The Sixers are coming off of a season where they fell tremendously short of their expectations heading into the year. Former head coach Brett Brown couldn't find a way to get the All-Star tandem of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to click and the team's ceiling was limited because of that.
I believe that Rivers will be the guy to get that duo going, as well as his former player Tobias Harris, who played at a near-All-Star level under Rivers with the Clippers. With new team president Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand surrounding Simmons, Embiid and Harris with shooters - something Philly has failed to do in the past - I'm expecting a bounce-back year for the 76ers.
If they finish among the top teams in the Eastern Conference, all signs will point to Rivers as Coach of the Year.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): It's time for Michael Malone to get his props.
Entering his sixth season at the helm in Denver, Malone has manned the sidelines for the Nuggets rise back into contention in the loaded Western Conference. Riding back-to-back improbably 3-1 comebacks to reach the conference finals, the Nuggets' consistent play feels like it has been somewhat overlooked. With a 146-91 record over the last three seasons, Denver has steadily improved year-on-year behind emerging MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and a raft of young role players.
With Jamal Murray looking every bit a rising superstar, the Nuggets will once again be at the pointy end of the West standings and the Coach of the Year award does have history of being a multiple-year achievement award. A finalist for the award in 2019, Malone should once again be one of the top candidates.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): Mike Malone might have been on the hot seat had the Nuggets gotten bounced in the first round of the playoffs in the bubble. Instead, they rallied from 3-1 deficit twice to get to the Conference Finals where they were overmatched by the eventual champion Lakers.
The Nuggets showed fight and guts in back-to-back series and battled as tough as they could in the West Final. They proved they'd go to bat for their coach and Malone showed he could motivate them to do so. But he also showed he could make adjustments in a series.
I don't know who needs to read this but Mike Malone can coach. And now that that's been established it would be great to see him be rewarded with a great season that ends with him being recognized as the Coach of the Year.
In my opinion, the Nuggets have a real shot at once again finishing in the top three of the Conference and if that's the case Malone should get some recognition.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): It's gotta be Monty Williams, right?
As Scott mentioned already, Williams displayed that he had the ear of his team as he led them to a flawless 8-0 record during the seeding games at the NBA Restart. To me, that was more than just wins and losses, as Phoenix's hiring of Williams signalled a culture shift within the franchise.
This offseason, that shift was taken into another gear with the acquisition of a number of veterans, who will help accelerate this team back into a playoff contender.
Should the pieces fall into place, it would be a major credit to Williams' coaching and would effectively put an end to the league's second-longest playoff drought, as the Suns haven't qualified for the postseason since 2010.
Restoration of a winning culture in just two short seasons is Coach of the Year material if you ask me.
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