- The New York Knicks fired David Fizdale.
- The Brooklyn Nets fired Kenny Atkinson
- The Cleveland Cavaliers fired John Beilein.
All of the coaches above were fired before their 5th season on the sidelines. Being an NBA head coach has a shorter life span than ever before. Teams want to win now, and they don’t let coaches grow on the job and develop. Below is my list of coach of the year candidates.
#5) Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics:
The Celtics are 42-20 and are one of the scariest teams going into the playoffs. Jason Tatum has become one of the rising, young stars, in the NBA. He is only 22-years old but has already become a closer at the end of games. Tatum is averaging 23.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown are averaging over 40 points combined and Gordon Hayward is scoring 16.9 points per contest. Brad Stevens has this team playing hard on both ends of the floor and they could get to the Eastern Conference Finals and with some luck, the NBA Championship.
#4) Frank Vogel, Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers are built for the post-season but have the best record in the Western Conference. From pre-season and throughout the entire season, this Lakers team has been focused, disciplined and their chemistry has been off the charts. LA has 4 new starters from last year, but they all appear to be on the same page. Vogel wasn’t my first or second choice to coach in Los Angeles but he has done a tremendous job. The Lakers rarely play poorly or get blown out, that is a direct reflection on the players mind-set and that comes from the coach. If you watched the last two games against the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers, Vogel and has staff did a tremendous job of making half-time adjustments.
#3) Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks:
With 22 games left in the regular season the Bucks clinched a playoff spot. They have the best record in the NBA at 53-10. The Bucks are 1st in scoring, 118.8 points per game, 1st in rebounding, 52.3 rebounds per game and 2nd, shooting 47.8% from the floor. This team is not just Giannis Antetokounmpo, they are deep and surrounded by veterans like Brook Lopez, George Hill, Wesley Mathews and Kyle Korver. This is another team that is built for the playoffs but they are dominating the regular season.
#2) Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder:
The Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to be in the NBA Draft Lottery at the end of the year. Someone forgot to tell Billy Donovan and Chris Paul. Over the past 7 years the Thunder have had the best talent in the NBA. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Victor Oladipo and Serge Ibaka all left to play elsewhere. OKC continues to lose all-star players but Donovan has rallied this group and they are playing very good basketball. The Thunder are battling for a top 4 playoff seed and they will be prepared to play whoever in the playoffs.. Donovan deserves all the credit in the world for making his players believe, when the rest of the NBA counted them out.
#1) Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors:
The Raptors won their first NBA Championship last season and all the credit went to Kawhi Leonard. Toronto has the 3rd best record in the NBA right now and all the credit should go to Nick Nurse. The Raptors went 17-5 last season without Leonard in the lineup. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka have revitalized their careers. Toronto has missed over 200 player games due to injury and yet they haven’t missed a beat. Every player on this roster has stepped up when players have missed time. Nurse has done a tremendous job of executing the next man up philosophy. He deserves to win Coach of the Year.
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