2021 Midseason Report

Blogtable: Who is your midseason Coach of the Year?

Our scribes chime in on which coach has stood out as the Coach of the Year midway through the 2020-21 season.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder has led his team to the NBA’s best record so far.

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Who is your midseason Coach of the Year?

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Steve Aschburner: Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz. Sometimes we voters get cute with this award, focusing on a mediocre team’s improvement. That approach would suggest New York’s Tom Thibodeau, credited with changing the Knicks’ work ethic and culture even as they hover around .500 and eye the postseason. That’s fine, but you have to intentionally look past Snyder, whose Jazz have been dominant (still haven’t lost 10 games) and done so with, well, the last two All-Stars picked on the playground. Without the gaudy record that owes itself in good part to Snyder’s hand on and off the court, either Rudy Gobert or Donovan Mitchell probably wouldn’t have been picked by the coaches anyway.

Shaun PowellQuin Snyder is pushing all the right buttons in Utah, where the Jazz are thriving in what is clearly the tougher conference. His system is maximizing the shooting talent of the rotation without neglecting the presence of Rudy Gobert, who gets about 10-12 or so touches and stays happy. Once the Jazz hit their stride in January, the accelerator stayed pressed, and look who’s living in the NBA penthouse right now. Also: Can’t ignore how Doc Rivers is giving the Sixers some realistic title hope.

John Schuhmann: Quin Snyder. The Jazz are the only team that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They have the league’s fourth-ranked offense even though their leading scorer (Donovan Mitchell) hasn’t been that sharp offensively (he’s well below average in regard to efficiency). Their 3-point shooting (they’re third in 3-point percentage and first in the percentage of their shots that have been 3s) is a product of their system as much as it is a product of having great shooters. They rank fourth defensively with one great defender and a couple of pretty good ones. There are a lot of coaches doing great jobs under tough circumstances this season, but when the best team in the league doesn’t have one (or more) of the league’s biggest talents, the coach is going to get rewarded.

Michael C. Wright: First, let’s list the worthy names deserving mention. Those include Steve Nash, Quin Snyder, Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau. All have done phenomenal jobs through the first half of the season with their respective teams, and in many cases, worked through challenging situations, which has become the norm throughout the pandemic. But what we’re seeing out of Phoenix is special as Monty Williams has quickly established a culture of accountability within that organization. We caught the first glimpses last summer when the Suns rolled through the field at the NBA bubble to post an 8-0 record. Everything just carried over into this season. Obviously, a major component of coaching is X’s and O’s, but the great coaches leave a mark on the players and the organization. When you talk to any of the Suns players, they quickly quote many of Williams’ sayings such as: “Everything we want is on the other side of hard.” The players have bought in, and you can see and feel a vibe of accountability from both the staff and the players. That’s all manifested itself on the court in the form of Phoenix’s immense success.