NBA Coach Of The Year Best Bets

By John Gilpatrick July 13, 2022

NBA Coach Of The Year Best Bets

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One thing we can say with almost the utmost certainty: Jamahl Mosley of the Orlando Magic will not be winning Coach of the Year, and nor should be after the worst team in the NBA pulled Paolo Banchero from Summer League and prevented everyone from watching the one game from Vegas that everyone wanted to see: Orlando vs. Oklahoma to watch Banchero go up against Chet Holmgren.

That would have been a matchup of the two favorites for Rookie of the Year, but now it will have to wait until the regular season when it will likely not be on national TV. So the Magic win the Funhater Award for Summer, 2022, which ain’t easy given the state of the world.

Today we take a look at another of the NBA individual award lines that have gone up early and will not pay off until next spring. That means a waiting game for gamblers, but with the odds that are being offered, it behooves those with a strong belief to ride out the wait.

Odds for Coach of the Year range from +750 for Ime Udoka to +10000 for Mosley, Mark Daigneault and Stephen Silas, and it is a head-scratcher that Steve Nash of Brooklyn is not in that same group as the NBA continues to await the trades that will exile Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to new destinations.

Irving is expected to land with the Lakers, where new coach Darvin Ham is on the board at +1700 as the 10th choice. And if Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is able to pull off a deal sending Russell Westbrook to Brooklyn in order to acquire Irving, those odds are going to get shorter. A Big Three of LeBron James, Irving and Anthony Davis, if they all stay healthy, will make the Lakers to co-favorites with Golden State to finish first and come out of the West.

Unless …

Which brings us to the Denver Nuggets, who made it to the playoffs behind repeat MVP Nikola Jokic despite being without two starters, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. This summer, general manager Tim Connelly went out and acquired Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith in exchange for starters Monte Morris and Will Barton while also signing free agents Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan. Throw in Bones Hyland, who surged as a rookie in the second half of the season, and the retention of veteran power forwards Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green, and the Nuggets are absolutely stacked.

Minneapolis, Minnesota; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone talks with guard Bryn Forbes (6) while they play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Minneapolis, Minnesota; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone talks with guard Bryn Forbes (6) while they play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Michael Malone may have the strongest 1-10 roster in the entire Western Conference, and he has no business being ranked behind Ukoka, Monty Williams (Suns), Chris Finch (Timberwolves), Tyronn Lue (Clippers) and Jason Kidd (Mavericks). 

So, yes, we like Malone at +1400 if the Nuggets stay healthy. They have a legit chance to finish No. 1 in the West, which would make Malone a shoo-in for the award in that stacked conference. More on that below.

But then we have the East, where behind Udoka there are six other coaches before we find Erik Spoelstra (Heat) at +1400, and Mike Budenholzer (Bucks) and Nick Nurse of the Raptors both at +1800. 

All of those coaches are the leaders of teams that are known commodities, and for any other coach in the East to have a chance at Coach of the Year, they will have to jump ahead of that Top 4. 

Which brings us to Doc Rivers, who is +2800 for a Philadelphia 76ers team that will have Joel Embiid healthy and James Harden motivated and around for an entire season. Rivers was part of the Sixers braintrust that convinced Harden to give back $15 million in guarantee money to allow the 76ers the flexibility to go out and acquire Daniel House, De’Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker. 

Apr 20, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers talks to forward Danny Green (14) during game three of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers talks to forward Danny Green (14) during game three of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Remember, the Sixers finished in a three-way tie for second place in the East, just two games behind first-place Miami, despite the Ben Simmons drama they had to deal with for a majority of the season.

Now, Rivers has a roster that should stay intact from now through the end of the regular season, and finishing first would lock up this award for him … unless he is competing with a first-place Michael Malone.

Last season, Monty Williams of Phoenix finished first in the West and won the award. The previous year, Tim Thibodeau of the Knicks won it because the Knicks – for the first time in ages – were good. In 2020, winner Nick Nurse and the Raptors finished second. In 2019, Coach Bud of the Bucks finished first. In 2018, Duane Casey of the Raptors finished first. In 2016, Steve Kerr of Golden State finished first. In 2015, Coach Bud (then with the Atlanta Hawks) finished first. In 2014, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs finished first. 

So that first-place reason, it would not be the worst idea in the history of ideas to tune out the Lakers noise and go out and take a chance on Malone and Rivers at the same time. Naturally, one would want Rivers at +2800 rather than Malone at +1400. But both payoffs would be significant, and the sportsbooks have missed badly in pricing these two guys this high. And if you want to be a sharp, as we explained in an earlier column, you have to look for the oddsmakers’ gaffes and jump on them before they are bet down. 

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