NBA Midseason Awards: Coach Of The Year

We have now reached the 2021-22 NBA season’s dog days!

Coach Of The Year candidates this year have mainly unlocked their teams’ potential on the defensive end. All of these coaches below have done that this season, but it was tough to narrow it down to just these five.

5. Monty Williams – Phoenix Suns

Monty Williams may as well be a Phoenix Suns institution.

Not much has changed in Phoenix from last year, so he can’t be higher on this list than the number five slot. But the Phoenix Suns are not the same team defensively under another head coach. The production Williams has gotten on that end out of Devin Booker and Chris Paul has been phenomenal.

He gets the most credit for the impact of Mikal Bridges and DeAndre Ayton, showing that Williams is all about it on the defensive end.

The Coach Of The Year award doesn’t always go to the team with the best record, but if it does this year, that could very well be Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns. His Suns have switched places with Golden State for the top seed in the West the entire season.

4. Billy Donovan – Chicago Bulls

Billy Donovan is another man who has gotten great defense out of subpar individual defenders. He’s been given many new pieces and had them playing like they were together for three-plus years right out of the gate.

We haven’t had to talk about it much because it hasn’t been an issue, but Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan could’ve easily butted heads on offense Celtics-style, but instead, they are both headed for All-NBA teams and consolatory MVP candidacies.

Not to mention, Nikola Vucevic’s defensive impact has been a watershed moment in the NBA. Sure, Vuc could make a few great defensive plays when no one was watching in Orlando, but his impact on a team with postseason aspirations has been a testament to Donovan’s ability to get his players to buy in on D.

Donovan could even be higher on this list, given that many thought his Chicago Bulls would be a Play-In team and how they have dealt with extended absences to key players; it’s a testament to how much good coaching there has been in the 2021-22 NBA season.

3. Erik Spoelstra – Miami Heat

Coach Spo hasn’t gotten enough credit for his success all-time with the Miami Heat.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have missed huge stretches of games, Kyle Lowry is entirely new to the team, and the Heat are in 3rd place. Enough said.

Actual production out of guys like Omer Yurtseven, Kyle Guy, and Max Strus help to solidify his case as the team’s culture, coaching included, always seem to be the biggest reason for Miami’s success.

2. Taylor Jenkins – Memphis Grizzlies

At the start of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies were dipping into dead last in defensive rating. Dead. Last.

The group is now 6th in January games, and overall, Taylor Jenkins has gotten Memphis just outside the top-10 as a defensive unit lately.

Production out of Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke, John Konchar, Killian Tillie, and many other random players give insight into just how well a basketball mind Jenkins possesses.

Ja Morant missed 12 games, and the Grizzlies went 10-2 in that stretch. Are you kidding me? No one should be able to routinely beat the Lakers while giving Santi Aldama or Shaq Buchanan minutes.

1. Steve Kerr – Golden State Warriors

Steve Kerr has the best system in the NBA.

He started with the same core players from the 2020-21 season in Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Then took in a new crop of rotational players that fit his system in Nemanja Bjelica, Otto Porter Jr., and Andre Iguodala. Kerr has propelled the Warriors from a middling Play-In team last year to the top of the West.

And now he’s getting Klay back. Incredible. Currently, Steve Kerr’s name isn’t usually the first thrown out when considering Coach Of The Year candidates. But at the end of this season, it would be a big surprise if he wasn’t the top candidate considering how much the Warriors have gone through, two mediocre seasons, to finally be back on top of the mountain.

Comment below if you think I missed any, or rank these choices differently!

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