We’re roughly a month into the 2022-23 NBA season, and already, we’ve seen some teams greatly exceed the expectations that were set for them at the beginning of the year. Others have been just as phenomenal as we anticipated.
Both of these are criteria for the NBA’s annual Coach of the Year Award, which is generally given to the coach of the team with the league’s best record or the coach whose team most significantly outperformed expectations.
This past year, the award was given to Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams, who led his team to a 64-18 record — the best in the NBA.
Could Williams win it again in 2022-23? Or will a different coach take home the hardware at the end of the season?
NBA Coach of the Year Odds 2023
These NBA gameday odds are current as of Friday, Nov. 18, at 9 a.m. ET and courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
- Will Hardy - Jazz (+550)
- Joe Mazzulla - Celtics (+550)
- Chauncey Billups - Trail Blazers (+900)
- Mike Budenholzer - Bucks (+1000)
- J.B. Bickerstaff - Cavaliers (+1000)
- Taylor Jenkins - Grizzlies (+1200)
- Mike Brown - Kings (+1400)
- Nate McMillan - Hawks (+1400)
- Willie Green - Pelicans (+1400)
- Jacque Vaughn - Nets (+1600)
- Mark Daigneault - Thunder (+1800)
- Monty Williams - Suns (+1800)
- Rick Carlisle - Pacers (+2000)
- Wes Unseld Jr. - Wizards (+2000)
- Michael Malone - Nuggets (+2000)
- Nick Nurse - Raptors (+2500)
- Erik Spoelstra - Heat (+2500)
- Tyronn Lue - Clippers (+2500)
- Chris Finch - Timberwolves (+2500)
- Jason Kidd - Mavericks (+2500)
- Darvin Ham - Lakers (+2500)
- Tom Thibodeau - Knicks (+3000)
- Gregg Popovich - Spurs (+3000)
- Steve Kerr - Warriors (+3500)
- Doc Rivers - 76ers (+4000)
- Steve Clifford - Hornets (+5000)
- Billy Donovan - Bulls (+5000)
- Dwane Casey - Pistons (+10000)
- Jamahl Mosley - Magic (+10000)
- Stephen Silas - Rockets (+10000)
NBA Coach of the Year Prediction
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers
Of all the hot starts and surprises to begin the year, Portland’s looks the most sustainable. Not only do they have the talent to compete for a playoff spot and a relatively strong record, but they also clearly have the right motivator in Billups.
NBA Coach of the Year Favorites
Will Hardy, Utah Jazz (+550)
Will Hardy is chief among the “exceeding expectations" candidates to win the award this season. The 34-year-old’s Utah Jazz were widely considered to be one of the worst teams in the NBA coming into the year, with their Over/Under set at just 23.5 wins.
However, the Jazz have picked up 10 wins through their first 16 contests, with impressive victories coming over the likes of the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, and Atlanta Hawks.
Time will tell if Utah can sustain this level of play, but Hardy is the co-favorite to win for a reason. His Jazz have easily been the surprise of the season thus far, and it would take some incredibly disappointing play from here on out for him to fall out of the race.
Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics (+550)
On the other end of the spectrum, Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla is the co-favorite to win the award because his team has the best record in the league. Boston is 12-3 through its first 15 and ranks first in points per game, offensive rating, and net rating.
With that said, it’s fair to say that Mazzulla has outperformed his expectations as well. He only took over the coaching position because Ime Udoka found himself amid significant controversy this offseason and was swiftly suspended by the organization.
Once considered to be nothing more than an interim head coach, Mazzulla has put himself in position to become the long-term leader of this Celtics team, even after Udoka’s suspension comes to an end.
NBA Coach of the Year Contenders
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers (+900)
Once a Hall of Fame talent on the court, Chauncey Billups has the Portland Trail Blazers (10-5) firing on all cylinders in his second season with the team. Just one year after going 27-55, the Blazers are surprisingly the top team in the Western Conference.
Damian Lillard‘s presence is obviously a big lift — the superstar point guard appeared in just 29 games last season — but the Blazers still weren’t expected to be this good, even accounting for Lillard’s return.
Billups has the Blazers competing hard on a nightly basis, and their 11-4 record against the spread — the second-best across the Association — is indicative of just how well this team is playing right now.
J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers (+1000)
J.B. Bickerstaff impressed this past season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, coaching his team to a 44-38 record and nearly sneaking into the playoffs despite entering the year with an Over/Under of just 26.5 wins.
His team got even better over the summer with the addition of Donovan Mitchell, a three-time All-Star who had spent his previous five years with the Jazz. Mitchell has fit seamlessly into Cleveland’s rotation, averaging a career-high 31.6 points per game through his first 11 appearances.
Although they’ve fallen into a bit of a slump as of late, Bickerstaff’s Cavaliers look like a legitimate title contender this season, and if he can get them back on track, he’ll find himself right back at the front of the conversation.
NBA Coach of the Year Sleepers
Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings (+1400)
Mike Brown, the 2008-09 NBA Coach of the Year with LeBron James‘ Cavaliers, earned his first head coaching gig since 2014 this offseason. After spending six years as an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s staff in Golden State, the Sacramento Kings made the move to bring in Brown.
That decision has largely paid dividends so far, which is why he’s my favorite sleeper pick to win the award this year.
Brown’s Kings are 8-6 to begin the year and look the part of a playoff team, which is a feat that Sacramento hasn’t achieved since 2006. The Kings are also an impressive 11-3 against the spread this season, which speaks to how hard he has this team competing on a nightly basis.
If Brown can lead Sacramento back to the playoffs and end the longest postseason drought in all of the four major sports (NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL), it’ll be hard not to give him this award.
Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets (+2000)
It feels like Michael Malone is the perennial Coach of the Year snub. His Denver Nuggets are always great, and save for an injury-riddled campaign in 2021-22, they’ve finished third or better in the Western Conference every year since 2018.
Perhaps this year is finally the one?
Malone’s squad is finally back to full strength now that star guard Jamal Murray has recovered from an ACL tear, and he also has the power to deploy two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokić whenever he pleases.
The Nuggets are 9-5 to begin the year, and have only gotten better since the season started. If Malone can coach Denver to the best record in the league, he’ll have to win the award.