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Weighing up the best NBA Coach of the Year candidates in 2021-22

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The NBA Coach of the Year candidates 2022 are filled with names who exceeded expectations and elevated their teams to success. For coaches, being in the conversation alone is already a huge feat to accomplish.

NBA Coach of the Year candidates 2022

The NBA COY award isn’t automatically given to the coach of the best team in the league. Otherwise, it would already be handed to the Suns’ Monty Williams. There are a lot of factors that go into the votes to consider one worthy of the said award.

It’s tricky to pinpoint who’s the clear-cut Coach of the Year winner since there are a lot of coaches who outperformed this season. Some of them even transformed a “projected” lottery team into a contending team.

Here are the top 10 NBA Coach of the Year candidates 2022…

10. Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue deserves some praise after what he has done to the depleted Clippers roster. Kawhi Leonard has missed the whole season while Paul George and Norman Powell have also missed a huge chunk of games this season.


Still, the Clippers managed to become one of the best defensive teams in the league and finished the season strong with a record of 42-40. Lue’s ability to make adjustments to his rotations is one of his best assets as a head coach.

9. Billy Donovan

If the season ended in February, Billy Donovan is definitely one of the top NBA Coach of the Year candidates 2022. The Bulls even became the top team in the East at some point. However, they were abysmal after the All-Star break and struggled to beat teams above .500.

Still, Donovan should get some credit for maximizing his roster to the fullest despite the plethora of injuries they suffered. Chicago managed to finish the season with a record of 46-36, sixth in the East. DeMar DeRozan may have done the heavy lifting but Donovan’s work and rotations also helped them to win the majority of their games.

8. Michael Malone

The Nuggets finished as the sixth seed in the West without their two best players next to Nikola Jokic; Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. Despite these absences, Denver managed to win 48 games and maintained a top 10 offense through the season.

Nikola Jokic has already been one of the previous NBA award winners when he was crowned the MVP last season. This season, Jokic is still the frontrunner in the NBA MVP race but credit should also be given to Michael Malone. The Nuggets are headed for the playoffs for the fourth straight season under his helm.


7. Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd did an incredible job in his first year with the Mavericks. Dallas finished the season fourth in the West with a 52-32 record.

The Mavericks are one of the best defensive teams in the league, especially in defending beyond the arc. They are ranked first in opponent three pointers made (10.9), third in opponent three-point attempts (32.1), and second in opponent points (104.7).

Kidd made the most out of the team given their injuries, limited talent, and lack of size. Despite some questions about his head coaching ability, Kidd proved that he belongs in the Coach of the Year conversation this season.

6. Chris Finch

There was not much expectation for the Wolves this season after having a lukewarm offseason. However, Chris Finch led Minnesota to a 46-36 record, the seventh-best record in franchise history.

Offensively, the Wolves ranked first in points (115.9 ppg), seventh in assists (25.7), and three pointers made (14.8). Defensively, they ranked first in opponent turnovers (16.3), tied for third in blocks (5.6 bpg), and tied for third in steals (8.8 spg).

Overall, the Wolves looked like a different team out there. The addition of Patrick Beverley also has given them some toughness on the defensive end. But the majority of the credit should ultimately be given to Finch for changing the franchise’s culture.

5. Erik Spoelstra

The Heat managed to finish at the top of the Eastern Conference despite missing Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Bam Adebayo for a huge chunk of the season. Erik Spoelstra led Miami to their first 50-win season since the 2013-14 campaign.

The Heat maintained their reputation as one of the best defensive teams in the league. They finished the season with the seventh-best offense and defense in the league, and that’s without most of their starters playing together. Miami clawed and fought to win games with guys like Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven stepping up.

Despite Spoelstra’s display of his coaching genius for the past decade, he still hasn’t won a single NBA COY award. He has a real shot to win it this season given how Miami played.

4. Ime Udoka

No other team in the league has turned things around as quickly as the Celtics. After a horrendous start to the season, the Celtics had gone 24-5 in their last 29 games. Ime Udoka deserves a lot of credit for this historic turnaround and is one of the top NBA Coach of the Year candidates 2022.

Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the league under him. They finished fourth in defensive rating and led the league in limiting their opponents to 104.5 points and 43% field goal percentage per game.

Moreover, Udoka challenged everyone to be better, even publicly criticizing them. As a result, everyone on the team elevated their game. Jayson Tatum has emerged at the top of the NBA MVP race, Marcus Smart has fully embraced his role and averaged 8.0 assists per game in March, and Robert Williams has transformed into a legitimate DPOY candidate.

3. J.B. Bickerstaff

The Cavs are one of the biggest surprises this season under J.B. Bickerstaff’s tutelage. The projected lottery team had exceeded expectations as they finished the regular season with a record of 44-38 in the competitive East. They had suffered lots of injuries throughout which derailed their chances of being a seeded team in the playoffs.

Despite the plethora of injuries, Bickerstaff had done a great job in turning one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA into one of the best. The Cavs employ one of the best defensive rotations in the league with Isaac Okoro manning up the perimeter and Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen anchoring the paint. They finished third in defensive rating for the season.

Bickerstaff deserves a lot of praise for what he has done for this team. He unleashed Darius Garland to fully run their offense, displayed Mobley’s DPOY potential, and revived Kevin Love’s career. But what stands out the most is Mobley’s brilliance on both ends of the floor which places him at the top of the NBA Rookie of the Year rankings.

2. Taylor Jenkins

Despite being one of the youngest coaches in the league, Taylor Jenkins did a fantastic job with the Grizzlies this season. We already saw a glimpse of what they can do when they won against the Warriors in the Play-In Tournament last season.

The Grizzlies finished second in the West with a 56-26 record. But what stands out in their campaign is their ability to win games without their All-Star, Ja Morant. They have gone 20-3 in games without Morant. They even won against the top-seeded Suns while missing most of their starters.

Jenkins’ ability to maximize his depth is the big reason why they can stay competitive. It takes a great coach to utilize all the talent around him and seamlessly deploy the pieces together. Under him, Memphis finished inside the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating this season. Jenkins is definitely one of the top NBA Coach of the Year candidates 2022.

1. Monty Williams

Monty Williams finished second in the NBA Coach of the Year voting last season, behind Tom Thibodeau. This year, Williams repeated the same success he had with the Suns last year and even took it one notch higher. Last season, the Suns finished with a 51-21 regular-season record; but this year, the Suns finished 64-18 as the best team in the league.

The way Phoenix played this season is proof that they are a legitimate championship contender and that last season wasn’t a fluke. They are still one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league—finishing third in offensive rating and second in defensive rating.

It was Williams who ultimately transformed the franchise into having a winning culture. This season just showed Williams (again) that he’s one of the best NBA coaches, and if not the best coach in the league.

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