We’ve reached the mid-season of the NBA season and we know a few things: which teams are good (Warriors, Suns, Bulls and a few others), which teams are disappointments, and which players have established themselves in the playoff prize the most. races. Throughout the week, we’ll be making our pick for some of the best NBA awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year).
Today: Coach of the year.
Taylor Jenkins (Memphis Grizzly Bears)
The best proof of Jenkins’ work at Memphis isn’t the 11-game winning streak or the fact that the Grizzlies sit third in the West, just 2.5 games off the top – although those things are unmistakably impressive. – instead it was the 10-2 race when Ja Morant came out, it showed his ability to get the most out of his team. They’re the third-youngest team in the NBA, but they’re playing like veterans. Jenkens should get some development credit from players like Desmond Bane, John Konchar, Brandon Clarke, Dillon Brooks, Tyus Jones, Jaren Jackson Jr., and of course Morant. Jenkins built a strong culture but also adapted his style to the players he had.
Jenkins, however, is in a very crowded area for COY and almost as strong arguments could be made for Billy Donovan, Steve Kerr, JB Bickerstaff, Monty Williams, Erik Spoelstra and others. In a season with players entering and leaving the roster due to COVID – and coaches, too – this has been particularly difficult terrain to judge. This is a case where if I had to pick someone now I would pick Jenkins, but my list is more of a watchlist for the second half of the season – this race is wide open.
JB Bickerstaff (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Bickerstaff got a frontcourt apparently too big to fit, optimized two-point guard formations (at least before Ricky Rubio got injured) and built up a solid defense while giving young players the bigger roles. that Cleveland should prioritize. The Cavs are better this year – and should be better in the future – thanks to the work of Bickerstaff.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan has crafted well-adjusted rosters without being limited by traditional positional roles. Amid numerous roster disruptions, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra prepared and positioned several deep reserves to thrive. Although he has done much of his work in previous seasons and I take the ‘of the year’ part of this award at face value – also limiting the Warriors’ coach’s still viable nominations Steve Kerr and Suns coach Monty Williams – Quin Snyder deserves some credit for the Jazz around the pack in the offensive standings.