To achieve real success at the NBA level, not even the best players in the world can do it alone. These individuals may be able to put up gaudy numbers and earn personal accolades, but they’ll have a hard time being the last team standing at the end of the year. For that to happen, it requires the right mindset, a stellar supporting cast, and someone capable of pulling all the necessary strings to make it work. And with regard to the latter, we’re, of course, talking about the head coach.
The players on the floor are the ones putting the ball in bucket, but it’s the head coach who’s trying to figure out how to put them in the best position to make that happen. And that’s far from the easiest job. The NBA is filled with plenty of big personalities and massive egos. A coach is required to deal with it all while, at the same time, making sure the team doesn’t lose track of its most important objective: winning.
The 2015-16 season may have just gotten underway, but already oddsmakers in Vegas have determined which coaches they feel will do the best job navigating these rough waters. If you follow the NBA, then all of the names on the list should look unfamiliar. However, how they’re lined up — that’s a different story.
Therefore, with that in mind, here’s a look at the five coaches with the best chance to win the 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year Award.
4. David Blatt, Cleveland Cavaliers
Last season may have been David Blatt‘s first year coaching in the NBA, but he proved he was by no means a rookie head coach. Not only was Blatt able to deal with the demands of coaching a team made up of of three legitimate superstars — one of which was the best player on the planet — but he was also able to help the Cleveland Cavaliers achieve a 53-29 regular-season mark and reach the NBA Finals. If he can keep up the good work in year two, there’s no reason why Blatt can’t pick up some hardware of his own.
3. Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers (tie)
In Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Clippers have one of the best coaches in the NBA. He’s an excellent in-game tactician, his players would run through a wall for him, and he has the ability to bring out the best in his teams. In two full seasons in Los Angeles, the Clips haven’t won less than 56 games. Rivers has already won this award once before — during the 1999-00 season — and if he can help the Clippers do more than just win the occasion playoff series, we think he has as good a chance as any to be named the 2015-16 Coach of the Year.
3. Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder (tie)
Billy Donovan has coached exactly one NBA regular-season game. He also won that game. So he’s off to a perfect start. In all seriousness, though, the Oklahoma City Thunder hired themselves one of the best coaches we’ve seen in quite some time. During his stops at Marshall and Florida, Billy the Kid amassed an overall record of 502-206, secured a winning percentage of .709, and collected back-to-back national championships with the Gators in 2006 and 2007. Now he’s being given the opportunity to coach studs like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He should do just fine in OKC.
2. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
Remind us again, how did Steve Kerr‘s first year as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors turn out? That’s right, during the 2014-15 season he won 67 games and led the Dubs to the franchise’s first title in 40 years. With the way Golden State came out to play on opening night, this team appears poised to protect the throne. If that’s the case, the only thing that could stand in Kerr’s way of achieving individual glory is if he remains out of commission for an extended period of time. We’d be curious to see how the Warriors survive that scenario.
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich was the best coach in the NBA before the San Antonio Spurs went out and made a splash during the offseason. Providing him with a player of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s talent is simply not fair. Now the Spurs have another weapon to go along with the ageless Tim Duncan and the emerging face of the franchise Kawhi Leonard. Pop may not be the easiest person to interview on the planet, but his job is all about pulling the right strings on the sidelines. If San Antonio does what it’s supposed to this season, the future coach of Team USA could easily take home his fourth career Coach of the Year award.
Odds are courtesy of sportsbook.ag.