We’re more than halfway into the 2022-23 NBA season, and as such, 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.
Who will 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 Thursday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m. ET and courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
- Joe Mazzulla — Celtics (+175)
- Mike Brown — Kings (+230)
- Michael Malone — Nuggets (+275)
- Taylor Jenkins — Grizzlies (+650)
- J.B. Bickerstaff — Cavaliers (+900)
- Jacque Vaughn — Nets (+1000)
- Doc Rivers — 76ers (+1000)
- Mike Budenholzer — Bucks (+1400)
- Mark Daigneault — Thunder (+1500)
- Will Hardy — Jazz (+2500)
Track line movement for NBA Coach of the Year with our odds widget below:
Select NBA Coach of the Year from this odds interface by changing the Winner dropdown to Awards - Coach Of the Year.
NBA Coach of the Year Best Bet
Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics (+175)
It’s no surprise to see Mazzulla here, as his Celtics have been the best team in the NBA this year. As of Feb. 23, Boston has the league’s best record, No. 1 net rating, and third-best offensive rating.
Even though the Celtics made it to the NBA Finals last year, it’s fair to say that Mazzulla has outperformed his expectations as well. This is his first year as the team’s head coach, after all, and he began the season as an interim head coach at that.
Mazzulla’s Celtics would only need to go 13-10 down the stretch of the season for his team to surpass the 54.5 wins they were projected to earn this season. So long as Boston finishes with the best record, his case will be as good as anybody’s to win this award.
NBA Coach of the Year Favorites
Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings (+230)
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 one of my favorite picks to win the award this year.
Brown’s Kings are 32-25 and occupy the No. 3 spot in the West. Sacramento is also an impressive 30-26-1 against the spread this season, which speaks to how hard he has this team competing on a nightly basis.
If Brown can lead the Kings 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 (+275)
It feels like 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.
As of Feb. 23, the Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference and are a game behind the Celtics for the No. 1 record overall. Malone has done an excellent job with this team thus far, and if he can keep up their winning ways, he’ll at least finish as a finalist.
NBA Coach of the Year Contenders
Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies (+650)
Right behind Malone and the Nuggets in the West is Jenkins’ Grizzlies squad, which has arguably been better than the group that surprisingly earned the No. 2 seed last year. Improving upon such a performance was always going to be difficult, but Jenkins has done a fantastic job of exceeding expectations.
Memphis ranks fifth in net rating and second in defensive rating. Opponents are shooting just 44.9% from the field against them, too, which also happens to be the best mark in the league.
The Grizz were pegged to win 49.5 games this year, and with 25 to go, Memphis is just 15 wins away from topping that mark.
J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers (+900)
The Cavaliers have carved out a niche as the best defensive team in the NBA, and Bickerstaff has played a large role in that. By coaching to his team’s strengths and playing slow (Cleveland ranks dead-last in pace), the Cavs have earned the No. 1 defensive rating and are allowing the fewest points per game in the league.
His team is likely too far down in the Eastern Conference standings for him to win this award, but he likely has at least one in his future.
NBA Coach of the Year Sleepers
Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets (+1000)
Since Vaughn took over head coaching duties from Steve Nash, the Nets have gone 32-19 and climbed up to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. Trading Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will ultimately hurt his case, but the job he’s done so far speaks for itself.
The Nets rank ninth in offensive rating, 14th in defensive, and ninth in net. Those numbers won’t hold as the season comes to a close, but the franchise is clearly set up well for the future with him at the helm.