Who are the front-runners in the NBA's Coach of the Year race?

Who are the front-runners in the NBA's Coach of the Year race?

The race for this year’s Coach of the Year award is coming down to the wire with only a handful of regular-season games remaining. Overall, this season has been anything but normal with fewer games played, increased back-to-backs, limited practice time and the mounting injuries across the league, so coaches have definitely had their hands full. 

Let’s take a deep dive into the three front-runners for this year’s Coach of the Year award, the case for and against each candidate, and who’s the best bet if you want to wager on this award. 

Monty Williams - Phoenix Suns (-140)

The Suns have been one of the biggest surprises in the 2020-21 NBA season and while the offseason addition of Chris Paul and the sustained growth of their top two young players, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, have been key factors in the team’s remarkable rise over the last 12 months, most of the credit should go straight to Monty Williams.

The former NBA veteran, who played nearly a decade after being a first-round pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, has been thriving since being hired as the Suns’ head coach back in 2019. He showed the first signs of his work during the 2020 NBA Bubble in Orlando, where the Suns went 8-0 and came quite close to reaching the playoffs after barely sneaking into the group of teams that were invited to Disney’s Wide World of Sports. Now, Phoenix has taken a huge leap this year and sit in second place in the Western Conference standings with a 48-19 record that rivals the Utah Jazz for the best record in The Association. Williams also has the Suns as one of the best scoring teams in the league, with 114.5 points per game while also limiting opposing teams to just 46.2% from the field -- the 10th-best mark in the entire NBA.

At this point in the season, this award is Monty Williams’ to lose and according to the experts at BetQL your money is safest on this pick. The Suns look like they have what it takes to lock up the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the West compared to last season when the Suns couldn’t reach .500. The combination of Williams and Paul have allowed Phoenix to turn things around, and we have a good feeling Monty will be taking home the Coach of the Year trophy.

Tom Thibodeau - New York Knicks (+150)

While Tom Thibodeau hasn’t enjoyed the same success that Williams has had with the Suns, the head coach of the New York Knicks deserves a ton of praise for what he’s done with the franchise in the Big Apple. The Knicks were riding the waves of mediocrity and didn’t seem ready to end what seemed to be an eternal, painful rebuilding process until “Thibs” came around. The Knicks now have an identity and have been thriving in the Eastern Conference, recording a 37-30 mark and looking extremely likely to finish the season as one of the four-best teams in the East. 

They have done that by virtue of their defensive ability, as the Knicks have the best defense in the league by a wide margin -- they limit opponents to a mere 44.3% from the field and are allowing 104.6 points per game, both of which leads the NBA. As if that wasn’t enough, Thibodeau has Derrick Rose playing his best basketball of the last few years. He has also helped Julius Randle realize his full potential, converting him into an All-Star. Even players such as Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel have looked excellent while being coached by Thibs. Undoubtedly, he’s the main reason why the Knicks are sitting so high in the Eastern Conference standings.

Quin Snyder - Utah Jazz (+250)

Last but not least, Quin Snyder couldn’t be left off of this list. Not only has he done an excellent job with the Jazz this season, he’s been part of a long process that’s finally paying off, as Utah should be a contending force in the West for years to come. He was originally hired by Utah in 2014 and he’s helped create this culture that’s now thriving. 

The Jazz have one of the best scorers in the league in Donovan Mitchell and an excellent supporting cast, including Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson -- who’s currently leading the race to become the Sixth Man of the Year -- but their identity is clear on the defensive side of the ball. Anchored by Rudy Gobert, who seems all but set to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, the Jazz have limited opponents to just 44.7% from the field (the second-best mark in the NBA) and concede just 107.2 points per game (the third-best mark in the league). They are making an unprecedented number of threes per game, and this two-way dominance is why they have the best record in the NBA. Snyder might not have the turnaround factor that jumps out with Thibodeau and Williams, but he simply can’t be overlooked in this race.

If betting on NBA futures isn’t for you and you would rather bet on night-to-night action in the NBA, make sure you check out BetQL’s best bets for tonight where you can find out which side their model is betting for every game, and every bet type for tonight’s slate of games.

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