The Toronto Raptors’ Nick Nurse was voted the 2020 NBA Coach of the Year, marking the first time he’s received the honor. However, Nurse took home the award in the G League, and now is the only head coach to accomplish the feat at both levels.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel tallied 36 total points and finished in fifth place in the voting, far short of Nurse’s 470. A panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters voted on the yearly award.
Vogel didn’t receive a single first-place vote but was given six second-place votes and 18 third-place votes. Nurse garnered 90 first-place selections. Reigning award-winner and Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer finished in second, narrowly edging the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Billy Donavan by 13 points. The Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra slotted in at fourth with 54 points.
Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote, and one point for each third-place vote. As with all other 2020 season awards, voting took place before seeding games began.
Nurse takes home the award a year after winning an NBA championship as a rookie head coach, only accomplished by eight others in history. He is just the third Raptors coach to win the award, joining Sam Mitchell and Dwane Casey.
Nurse wasn’t necessarily expected to win, but the selection followed the trend of top seeds producing the winning coach. The last time a coach outside of a conference’s top three was awarded was in 2010 when Scott Brooks led the Thunder to a surprising playoff-berth as the eight-seed.
The Thunder were eliminated by Lakers that year, as L.A. went on to win the franchise’s 16th championship.
Lakers having trouble with late tip-times
Due to the interest that LeBron James and the Lakers draw, the team often finds themselves playing in the latest game of the night. While good for ratings, Vogel expressed concern about its effect on the players.
“It’s not ideal. It’s like we’re traveling,” he said. “You get back to your hotel room at one in the morning, stay up until three or later, and you’ve got to figure out how to get productive work done in practice the next day.
“Difference is it’s like you’re playing every game in a playoff series and traveling after the game, so it’s part of our challenge. We encourage trying to work on the best sleep schedule possible within the environment.”
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