Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse finished third in the NBA Coaches Association’s award for Coach of the Year, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It was a narrow finish, as Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer and Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan are co-recipients of the award, with Nurse falling only one vote short. This award is voted on by the 30 head coaches, while the media decides the more popularly recognized Coach of the Year award, which will be announced at season’s end.
Nurse is believed to be the favourite among media voters for his accomplishments with the Raptors this season. Despite losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in the offseason, Nurse has the defending champions with a better record through 65 games as compared to last season. He also did so despite the Raptors suffering month-long injuries to six of their top seven players.
Stan Van Gundy breaks down Nick Nurse's innovative defenses. Raptors, by the way, are the No. 1 team in the league in opponent field goal percentage. pic.twitter.com/ZI6Fd088LE— William Lou (@william_lou) November 26, 2019
He’s shown a fearlessly innovative streak, reviving the popularity of various zone schemes that have fuelled the league’s second-ranked defence, while also inspiring copycats around the league. Nurse also oversaw continued development from players like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, and OG Anunoby, who have all taken on bigger roles as part of a championship-level core.
The Raptors have also set franchise-records with their longest winning streak (15 games), and largest margin of victory (46 points). Nurse also coached Team Giannis in the All-Star Game, with Siakam and Kyle Lowry on his side, won the championship as a rookie coach last year, and holds the highest win percentage of any coach in NBA history.
Nurse, however, was gracious upon hearing the news, showing deference and respect to the co-winners.
“Those guys obviously did a great job. You can’t argue with the Bucks’ record and how great OKC did after everybody had lower expectations for them, so those guys are very deserving,” Nurse said.
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