Did Joe Mazzulla win his first season title?
We tend to criticize them when things go wrong, and they’re often the first lock to jump if a team is in crisis, but NBA coaches can do a great job, too, and this Coach’s Ranking is an opportunity to offer them some light. COY for the year or close friends. Monty Williams was the king of the boards and felt himself in 2022, who will catch him this season? From Will Hardy to Joe Mazzulla, there are great contenders.
(Statistics as of December 1)
# Honorable Mentions: Taylor Jenkins, Chauncey Billups, Jacque Vaughn
#10 – Will Hardy
Record: 13-11, seventh in the Western Conference
With Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert gone, a workforce that was promised to be decimated by caution is an understatement if Will Hardy risks having his work cut out for his Utah coaching debut. Despite a somewhat hastily assembled and generally inexperienced group, the former protégé of Gregg Popovich knew how to quickly apply his claws and build a formidable collective capable of taking down even the best names in Salt Lake City. If we were to do this ranking a few weeks ago when the Jazz were at the top of their Conference, there’s no doubt this Good Will would probably be on the podium, but the recent losing streak has dampened the hype a bit. Because we promised hell in Utah earlier in the season, it deserved some respect by being in the Top 10.
#9 – Mike Budenholzer
Record: 15-5, second in Eastern Conference
Despite the still lingering wounds in the workforce, the Bucks always get to their destination, which is first place in the Eastern Conference. After a fanfare start (9 wins in a row), Milwaukee has eased up a bit, mainly due to several injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo or Jrue Holiday. When everyone is healthy, this group really has the ability to crush their opponents, and the best may be yet to come. Khris Middleton, who has been out since the start of the season, is expected to start this Friday against the Lakers. Yeah, yeah, fifteen wins in twenty games with the franchise’s No. 2, that’s pretty good, too.
#8 – Nick the nurse
Record: 11-10, seventh in Eastern Conference
The years have passed and Nick Nurse remains a tactician we still greatly appreciate in the Ontario side. We wondered at the start of the season if Toronto could go the distance against a loaded Eastern Conference, and right now the Dinos are doing just that. What is strong is that injuries have also taken their toll. Pascal Siakam has been in the hospital for a while, VanVleet has also missed a few games, and recently Scottie Barnes. Inevitably, it’s harder to win when most of the leaders are gone, but Toronto has reserves and the other guys are taking the opportunity to show themselves. For example, we think of OG Anunoby, who seems to have gone through a new phase this season. Can’t wait for everyone to get out of the hospital to see the real potential of these Raptors.
#7 – Monty Williams
Record: 15-6, first in the Western Conference
Monty Williams, who was voted coach of the year by his peers in 2021 and was voted by reporters in 2022 after a historic season in Arizona, is fighting for the double. The positive point of the Sun for the guru is an extremely serious start to the season once again, despite a few minor problems. Chris Paul has already missed eleven games this season, Cam Johnson quickly joined him in the hospital, and let’s not forget that Jae Crowder, who was owned last year, is in the closet. Despite everything, Phoenix remains the champion of the Western Conference and seems to have found its momentum with a six-game winning streak. Strong, even if Monty went with a small malus, it deserved a highlight. No coach in the history of the league has kept the trophy from one year to the next… Can Williams change that sentence?
#6 – JB Bickerstaff
Record: 14-8, third in Eastern Conference
What if Cleveland gave us the big year we’ve come to expect from them? Backed by MVPesque Donovan Mitchell, Ohio’s buddies are off to a solid start to the season despite a few avoidable losses and the TrashTalk curse. Last year, JB Bickerstaff managed to make these Cavs a favorite, and the question was whether he could manage a team that just wanted to win. A situation where he never had to manage much as a temporary employee or coach of a low-level team. For now, we really want to give a positive answer, even if there is work to confirm over time. #encouraging.
#5 – Mike Malone
Record: 14-7, second in the Western Conference
Maybe it’s the lack of gridiron in the mountains of Colorado (we honestly don’t know) or the general hype of the franchise, but Denver is off to a great start to the season. The recruiting has paid off and with the injured returning, the team can once again look at the top of their Conference. Slowly but surely, Denver is establishing itself as a major contender in the West, and the scariest part is that Nikola Jokic doesn’t have to be amazing every night. We’ve often been inclined to give Joker all the credit for the franchise’s recent results, but at some point, Mike Malone has to give some credit. Will the always-celebrated, never-winning Rockies coach be able to break out of the game this season?
#4 – Mike Brown
Record: 11-9, sixth in the Western Conference
Derided for years for not making the playoffs (and a generally disappointing level), the Kings are once again a team to be reckoned with in the West. It’s just that sentence is already unusual, and so we’re going to send our hearts to the man who restored order in the house: Mike Brown. Steve Kerr’s former defensive assistant has been unable to turn Sacramento into an ironclad defense so far (far from it), but De’Aaron Fox’s shooting offense allows the Kings to run through a lot of teams. No more repeat dramas in California, we feel like a well-rounded group, which is gaining momentum thanks to recruiting that has paid off (especially Kevin Huerter). I’m not sure a playoff berth would be enough to make Brown coach of the year, but it deserves a big line on his resume.
#3 – Willie Green
Record: 13-8, third in the Western Conference
The pelicans have flown! On the back of a big finish to the season and with the reinforcement of Zion Williamson (consider it a minor excuse), Willie Green is making New Orleans a fortress in the West. Great, unified, ready to give everything for the defense, Louisiana lovers have a good scarecrow head that no one wants to fall. Small stats are not useless: they are in the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating. Only Phoenix and Cleveland do. Minus a few injuries to the big names (Ingram, McCollum and Zion are already in the hospital), this team has the potential to have a great season. And to think this is Green’s second year on the bench… It bodes well for a great career for the former linebacker.
#2 – Rick Carlyle
Record: 12-9, fourth in the Eastern Conference.
And if Rick Carlisle is Coach of the Year again twenty years from now? It’s a statement no one will bet a dime on at the start of the season. Pacers? “Between Thirteenth and Fifteenth East, they want to rebuild anyway.” Oh well? Because right now our farming friends look more like a Playoff team than a Lottery team. It looks like the whole gang has stepped up following a Tyrese Haliburton caliber MIP. Myles Turner? The best year of his life. Benedict Mathurin? The rookie already has a shot at becoming the sixth man of the year. We can also mention Buddy Hield in the managers or the rookie Nembhard who enjoyed making his debut. Will this pastoral start from last year? At the end of the season, Carlisle’s place in the rankings is a bit of a big question.
#1 – Joe Mazzulla
Record: 18-4, first in Eastern Conference, best record in NBA.
He is the boss at the beginning of the season, without the slightest doubt, without the slightest argument. Joe Mazzulla, who took control of Boston to take over from the suspended Ime Udoka, managed to pocket his entire group in record time. His players constantly praise his methods, and the Celtics have had a great first month and a half. The band is strong, confident, the Jay Brothers are at their best, and we almost forget that Rob Williams hasn’t even stepped foot on the field yet. This is a reinforcement that will allow the Greens to regain their defensive strength. What Joe Mazzulla has done for us in the context of his first NBA experience and what we knew when he took over is very powerful.