Nick Nurse Named NBA Coach of the Year

The Toronto Raptors announced Saturday that Nick Nurse has been named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season. Nurse guided the Raptors to a 53-19 record during the regular season (second best in the NBA) and set a franchise-record with a .736 winning percentage.

              “When you see Nick on the sidelines, that’s who he is as a person. Relaxed, but so hard-working. Creative and dynamic. Always setting the tone for our team – attacking our next championship, rather than defending our last,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “That is who Nick is, that is why we believe in him. His journey to this tremendous honour has been a long one – we are so happy to see him recognized this way.”

Highlighting Toronto’s season was a franchise-record 15 straight victories (Jan. 15 – Feb. 10). During this stretch, the Raptors averaged 121.2 points and shot .504 (672-1333) from the field. The winning streak was the longest in Canadian sports history (NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and CFL). 

Nurse earned Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honours twice during the 2019-20 campaign – January and games played in October/November - and coached Team Giannis at the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

The Raptors finished the regular season leading the NBA in points allowed (106.5 ppg) and opponent three-point field goal percentage (.337) and ranked second in opponent field goal percentage (.428). Toronto also held its opponent to fewer than 100 points in 22 games – most in the NBA.

On the offensive end, the Raptors averaged 112.8 points (second most in team history) and a franchise-record 13.8 three-point field goals per game. This despite their top five leading scorers all missing at least 10 games due to injury or illness. Toronto had three players average at least six more points this season than they did in 2018–19: Norman Powell (+7.4 ppg, 8.6 to 16.0), Fred VanVleet (+6.6 ppg, 11.0 to 17.6) and Pascal Siakam (+ 6.0 ppg, 16.9 to 22.9).

After finishing the season restart in Orlando with a 7-1 record, Toronto also extended its streak to 24 consecutive calendar months with a winning record (Feb. 2017 – Aug. 2020). The streak is the longest in franchise history and the longest current streak in the NBA.

A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Nurse was named the ninth head coach in Raptors history on June 14, 2018, taking the job after five years as an assistant coach with the team. On June 13, 2019, he became just the ninth rookie head coach in league history to win an NBA Championship. Nurse has led the club to a 111-43 (.721) regular season record in two seasons. 

Coach of the Year voting from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters was based on games played from the start of the regular season through March 11 and did not include “seeding games,” which took place July 30 – Aug. 14 for the 22 teams participating in the season restart.

Nurse is the third coach in franchise history to win the award, joining Dwane Casey (2017-18) and Sam Mitchell (2006-07).