As we approach NBA training camp and the preseason, it means that we are roughly less than six weeks from the start of the NBA season. It’s time to talk props and get some NBA picks ready.
Tom Thibodeau (+800)
A former winner of this award is one of my best bets to win it this season. Tom Thibodeau would potentially join Don Nelson, Hubie Brown, Pat Riley, Cotton Fitzsimmons and Bill Fitch as the only coaches to have won coach of the year in the NBA with two different teams.
There are actually several coaches that could achieve that feat this season with Scott Brooks now in Orlando and Mike D’Antoni in Houston and of course, however, Thibodeau probably has a better team that both of those guys and his team is also very young. If he can get the Wolves to 50 wins and the playoffs and even get to the second round, Thibs is going to win this award.
If he was still in the east it might be a different story, but it seems like the league is almost cheering for Thibs to win this award after it ended in Chicago. You know he is going to get votes from a lot of writers if he has a good season in Minnesota with all of this young talent.
Brad Stevens (+1000)
The Celtics and Brad Stevens aren’t underdogs in the East anymore, but they are still capable of exceeding expectations, which is one of the first criteria when trying to win coach of the year.
He has been close now twice and one of these days he is going to break that ceiling. Now with Al Horford manning the middle in Boston, the Celtics look a whole lot more dangerous. Boston is another young team, but while their not as young as Minnesota thanks to guys like Horford and Amir Johnson, the East is wide open after the number one spot, so who knows, Boston could be that team to threaten for a top three seed.
That would probably be enough for Boston, who won 48 games last season and Stevens was sixth in the voting, snagging five first place and 10 second place votes.
Among the guys ahead of Stevens last year, Terry Stotts is really the only guy in my eyes that’s going to still be up there again this season, which we’ll get to in a minute. If Stevens gets to 55-58 wins and snags the two or three seed in the East, he will be in contention.
Terry Stotts (+2800)
Speaking of the Stotts-master, he was in second place last year behind Steve Kerr and it was actually a lot closer than what was reported at the time. Stotts had 335 points and garnered the most second and third place votes, as well as the second-highest total of first place votes.
The voters won’t want to give it to Kerr this season because of his super team and they probably won’t want to give it to Gregg Popovich who has won it three times. Other than Tyronn Lue at +450, those are your favorites.
Compared to last season where the Blazers won only 44 games, if Stotts can improve to above 50 this season with the addition of Evan Turner and hopefully a healthy roster and a deeper and more experienced bench, 28/1 is a steal.
Nate McMillan (+2800)
Finally, Nate McMillan is back on the NBA coaching bench in Indianapolis this season. While Indiana is a much older and more experienced roster than any of the three above teams, McMillan might also have the best team between all four of the teams mentioned here.
Indiana could be the second best team in the East right now and with Paul George about to have an MVP season, the rest of Indiana’s supporting cast might be ready to breakout. McMillan has his work cut out for him because all three of the above guys have been in the league a lot over the last four years, as McMillan has not coached since 2012.
However, with Jeff Teague and Thad Young coming over in trades and the emergence of Myles Turner as a potential star, this team is deep and talented. They brought in Al Jefferson as well to help mentor Turner, the Pacers have an eight or nine man rotation that might be a top eight in the league.
If McMillan can put all of that together, Coach of the Year may be within his grasp.