Tom Thibodeau Narrowly Beat Monty Williams For 2021 NBA Coach Of The Year

Coach of the Year is often an award given to the coach of the team that exceeds preseason expectations the most. In 2020-21, no team did that more than the New York Knicks, who earned the 4-seed in the East behind the play of Most Improved Player, Julius Randle, and under the tutelage of the Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau, as was announced on Monday night on Inside the NBA.

The turnaround the Knicks made from last year when they missed out on the Bubble to this season under Thibodeau was truly remarkable, as he wins the award for the second time in his career (2011 in Chicago). The buy-in he got from seemingly every player, particularly on the defensive end where he turned New York into a top-5 defensive unit was incredible considering they were 23rd a year ago with much of the same roster. The playoffs didn’t work out as the Knicks had hoped, as they got bounced by the Hawks in five games, but the season was unquestionably a success. Now comes the difficult work for Thibodeau and the Knicks to follow up the surprising season when there are real expectations, but it’s hard to argue against his worthiness for the award.

The voting was incredibly close between Thibodeau and Monty Williams in Phoenix, who won Coach of the Year as voted on by his fellow coaches, whereas the league’s award is voted on by select media members. Williams received more first-place votes than Thibs from the media, but Thibs had far more second-place votes to out-point Monty for the award.

What Williams has done with the Suns has also been remarkable, but as tends to be the case, the award went to the team with lower expectations entering the season that wowed everyone.