Nick Nurse Might be Ahead, but it’s a Free-for-All in the NBA Coach of the Year Odds
Welcome back NBA fans to our weekly discussion regarding the coaches who are in the running for this season’s Coach of the Year award. Over the past several weeks, the individuals who have dominated this discussion include Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics; Erik Spoelstra from the Miami Heat and Nick Nurse of the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
Could one of these coaches fall off the list, paving the way for another candidate to be in the running for this coveted award? Here’s an updated look at the coaches are ranked based on how their teams performed over the past week (Jan. 3 through Jan. 9).
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The Third-Best NBA Coach of the Year Odds: Brad Stevens (+500—No Change From Last Week)
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens continues to hold down the No. 3 spot on the list. The Celtics have been busy, playing five games over the past week. After notching a pair of victories against the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls, the wheels fell off the proverbial wagon the rest of the way. Following a five-point loss to the Washington Wizards, the Celtics proceeded to drop games against the San Antonio Spurs and the Philadelphia 76ers as well.
Last week, I predicted that the Celtics had a relatively easy slate of games ahead of them, possibly allowing Stevens’ odds to improve a bit. Based on what we’ve seen over the past few outings, I guess that assessment was a bit premature.
The Second-Best NBA Coach of the Year Odds: Erik Spoelstra (+450—Last Week’s Odds: +400)
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra comes in at No. 2 for the second consecutive week. Although the Heat weren’t presumed to be a playoff contender coming into the season, they have been playing some pretty good basketball and the past week was no exception. Sure, they came out flat against the Orlando Magic, losing by a 20-point margin. But they rebounded rather nicely with a pair of double-digit wins against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Indiana Pacers.
On the heels of another solid week (going 2-1), the Heat have won eight of their previous 10 and they have a one-and-a-half-game lead over the Celtics for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. While they’re still not a championship-caliber ball club, the odds of them slowing down any time soon appears to be slim and none.
The Best NBA Coach of the Year Odds: Nick Nurse (+450—Last Week’s Odds: +400)
As implausible as it may seem, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse continues to be the frontrunner for the Coach of the Year award. Toronto kicked off its weekly slate of games with 121-102 win over
the Brooklyn Nets. In their next outing against the Trail Blazers, the Raptors needed a defensive stop to send the game into an extra session. Unfortunately, that did not happen, as Carmelo Anthony hit what proved to be the game-winning bucket, enabling the road team to escape with a 101-99 victory.
Fortunately, the Raptors bounced back from that loss with a narrow 112-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets, giving them a 2-1 mark during that stretch. The Raptors have split their last 10 games, but they continue to excel at the defensive end of the floor. For example, they managed to win two of their three games over the past week despite never shooting better than 46 percent from the field. Secondly, the Raptors are ranked fourth in points allowed per contest (105.2) and they have the third-best defensive rating in the league.
Let’s also not forget that they continue to make life difficult for their opponents, limiting the opposition to 42.4 percent shooting. And because of the way they play at that end of the floor, the Raptors continue to be in the hunt for one of the top-four spots in the conference, despite Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell and Marc Gasol all being sidelined with injuries. Imagine what this team will look like when this trio returns to the lineup.