- BetOnline has Mike Budenholzer (-110) as the favorite to win his second-straight Coach of the Year award
- The Milwaukee Bucks’ 52-9 record puts them on pace for 70 wins
- The Raptors’ surprising success makes Nick Nurse an excellent bet at +110
Mike Budenholzer was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2018/19 after leading the Bucks to a league-high 60 wins, so with Milwaukee flirting with 70 Ws this season, logic would suggest he should claim the honor again.
But while oddsmakers have installed Coach Bud as the favorite, it’s important to point out that no bench boss in NBA history has ever won the award in back-to-back years.
With that in mind, let’s look at the odds at BetOnline and draw up a winning play.
2020 NBA COACH OF THE YEAR ODDS
THE FAVORITE: MIKE BUDENHOLZER
Whether you’re picking award winners for the NBA or the Oscars, you have to determine who voters will bestow credit to. And with Giannis Antetokounmpo an overwhelming -800 favorite to win his second-consecutive league MVP, it’s clear the Greek Freak will get full credit for Milwaukee’s incredible season.
To me, this makes Coach Bud a very bad investment at -110. At 52-9, the Bucks will have to go 18-3 over their remaining 21 games to hit the 70-win mark. While they’re on pace at the moment, the club has the ninth-hardest remaining schedule in the league, and will probably be resting guys down the stretch.
"I looked in Giannis' face and I saw FEAR!"@KendrickPerkins thinks the Miami Heat have the edge over the Bucks in a 7-game series right now ?? pic.twitter.com/NZVVjYKFJY
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) March 3, 2020
Steve Kerr, Phil Jackson and Bill Sharman all won Coach of the Year after leading their teams — the 2015-16 Warriors, the 1995-96 Bulls and the 1971-72 Lakers — to win totals of 73, 70 and 69, respectively. However, the Zenmaster didn’t win the award in 1996-97 after Chicago followed up their 70-win campaign with a 69-win year.
While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, it does show that voters are reluctant to hand coaches the award in consecutive seasons.
BEST BET: NICK NURSE
You could wager on sportswriters breaking a 57-year precedent of not handing out Coach of the Year trophies in back-to-back seasons, or you could bet on the guy who outcoached Budenholzer in a seven-game series just last May.
There’s a better-than-good chance that voters reward Nick Nurse (+110) retroactively for helping bring Canada its first NBA championship, but the Raptors bench boss also might have the more compelling case this year.
Following the @Raptors win on Friday, Nick Nurse currently stands as the winningest coach in NBA history with a record of 99-39 (.717)! https://t.co/Fj4Wbrwc8t
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) February 22, 2020
Assigning credit for the Bucks season is relatively easy: they have Giannis. But it’s much more difficult to figure out how Toronto is leading the Atlantic division with a 43-18 record after losing Kawhi Leonard in the offseason.
With the Raptors once again defying everyone’s expectations, Nurse should be an easy choice for NBA Coach of the Year.