Next up in the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable the T.I. writing team turns to the segment on awards and begin with Coaches who deserve consideration
The Thunderous Intentions writing team hits the awards phase of the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable series.
In each of the next few questions, the team dives into who should be getting consideration as a candidate for the each of the major awards.
With that, I give you question seven from the series…
Q7: Who are the three leading Coach of the Year candidates?
My top 3 coaches of the year candidates have to be Billy Donovan, Nick Nurse, and Frank Vogel.
Billy Donovan is my winner simply because despite everyone on planet earth calling him an awful coach with no system thanks to the players he was given, he is now showing just how good he is. Donovan has taken a team that many expected to fight for an 8th side at best, to fighting for home-court advantage.
Nick Nurse is simply the best coach in the sport, so he deserves to be up here but just as the very best player can not win the award every year, neither can Nick Nurse, though he deserves it for what he has done without Kawhi.
For Frank Vogel, it is simple. He has lasted this long on the same bench as LeBron, who has tried to fire every coach he has been with, even Erik Spoelstra! Despite Jason Kidd sitting next to Vogel, and many of us thinking Kidd would slide over at some point this season, Vogel has hung on with no drama. That is very impressive for a LeBron team.
3. Eric Spoelstra of the Miami Heat has does tremendous things with the undrafted and inexperienced. He has them near the top of the pile in the Eastern Conference.
2. Nick Nurse should not be considered in this but he is. The Toronto Raptors have had some of the worst luck with injury and yet his club is now second in the East.
1. Billy Donovan has done a tremendous job with a squad that lost their two main stars in the offseason. After a slow start, he has the team ticking.
1. Nick Nurse
After winning the 2019 NBA Championship, Kawhi Leonard left the North for the lights of Los Angeles. Most experts thought that the Toronto Raptors wouldn’t be a contender in a packed Eastern Conference. It turns out that they were wrong, as the Raptors have raced out to a 46-18 start and are currently the two seed in the Eastern Conference. With a lack of elite talent, Nick Nurse has proven to be an elite coach in the Association and deserves to win Coach of the Year.
2. Billy Donovan
This is a similar story to Toronto, but Billy slightly misses out because of the lower seeding and because Chris Paul is also doing some coaching of his own out on the floor.
3. Mike Budenholzer
The Bucks look unstoppable. Yes, they have two top-20 NBA players. Yes, Giannis may be the greatest player of his generation. However, it takes good coaching to lead a team to a 53-12 record. Budenholzer has done a great job crafting the team around their young Greek superstar.
My top three Coach of the Year candidates at this point in the season are Frank Vogel, Nick Nurse and Billy Donovan.
Frank Vogel has done an exceptional job with the Lakers, managing superstars in Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Not many coaches can do this and make sure that everyone buys into the system.
More from Thunderous Intentions
Even without Kawhi Leonard and with injuries to nearly everyone on the roster the Toronto Raptors have proven that they are a great team and they will not give up. Nick Nurse is a big reason for this. He’s maintained the amazing culture in Toronto and continues to bring out the best in his players. There’s no surprise why his team is second in the East and capable of defending their title.
Okay, I may be biased here, but I believe Billy Donovan should be a candidate for the work he has done to adjust his coaching after all the change in the offseason. He received some heat last year for OKC’s early playoff exit but this season he has shown why the franchise wanted him straight from the college system. He listens to his players and has allowed Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to seamlessly fit into the team.
An upcoming article will provide more meat on this subject but let’s just say I agree with the two constants provided by the team (Nurse, Donovan). I won’t spoil the article and my other three candidates but will say this award has a reason for serious debate whether the season continues, goes directly to playoffs or ends.
Monday offers up question eight and the team’s leading candidates for Most Valuable Player.
Please share your answers to the questions in the comments section. Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.