NBA Coach of the Year Candidate Rankings

Quin Snyder Utah Jazz Coach Year
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

For two months, Quin Snyder has sat atop the Coach of the Year Rankings as he led the Utah Jazz to first place in the Western Conference and league-leading win totals. And he’s not going anywhere.

The Jazz still lead the league in wins (35) and winning percentage (.761) as they approach the final third of the season. And Snyder’s team has climbed to fourth in NBA Championship odds. Entering Wednesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Jazz have won eight of their last 10 games and continue to hold +800 championship odds, as they did last week, but recently jumped the Milwaukee Bucks. Now they only trail the Brooklyn Nets (+250), Los Angeles Lakers (+300), and Los Angeles Clippers (+550).

Elsewhere, Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams remain within striking distance, followed by Doc Rivers, and Steve Nash. Updated NBA Coach of the Year Rankings (March 31, 2021):

Doc Rivers Coach of the year NBA

In his third season as Toronto Raptors’ head coach, Sam Mitchell won 47 games in 2005-06 and delivered the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2002. He was the first NBA Coach of the Year with a sub-.600 winning percentage since Doc Rivers since 2000. And there hasn’t been a sub-.600 Coach of the Year since Mitchell.

Since the award was born in 1962-62, only 13 of 58 winners had a sub-.600 record (and only one had a sub-.500 record). Five of those instances were in consecutive years when Phil Johnson, Bill Fitch, Tom Nissalke, Hubie Brown, and Cotton Fitzsimmons were five straight sub-.600 winners from 1975-79. Mitchell and Rivers are two of only three sub-.600 winners since 1988. 

Last year, Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse became the first coach since Mitchell to win fewer than 50 games, though only the 64 pre-bubble games were counted toward Coach of the Year voting. Had the Raptors continue winning at a .719 clip over an 82-game season, Nurse would’ve had 59 wins. In this year’s 72-game NBA season, a coach could win just 44 games but still post an above-.600 record.

If the historical trend continues, the potential candidate pool for 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year is smaller than you might realize.

Also: NBA MVP Rankings and NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings.

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