Billy Donovan earned some deserved praise for his role in the Chicago Bulls' strong start on Thursday, when the NBA announced him as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for games played in October and November.
Donovan, in his second season with the team, has steered the Bulls to a 14-8 record through 22 games, which ties them for second in the East with the ascendant Washington Wizards and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.
"I just think any time you're in a team setting and there's any kind of acknowledgement, per se, I think it's always a reflection of the coaching staff and the players and the organization, in my opinion," Donovan told reporters before Thursday's matchup with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. "The players are the ones that do it out there on the court. This has been a great group to deal with. Obviously I'm very very humbled by it and honored by it, but I also realize that without the players and the staff — I just happen to be the one being recognized, but really to me it's a recognition of our team."
Scoring 110 points per 100 possessions (eighth in the NBA), allowing 105.4 points per 100 possessions (sixth), and outscoring opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions (fourth), the Bulls are one of just five teams that rank in the top 10 in offensive, defensive and net rating.
Their plus-4.7 net rating and plus-4.5 point differential, in fact, both rank first in the East. And their 8-6 record against teams with .500 and above records puts them on pace to finish with double-digit victories against winning teams for the first time since 2016-17.
But Donovan has also deftly navigated rotations for the often-undersized group amid injuries to Coby White and Patrick Williams, and positive COVID-19 tests by White and Nikola Vučević, while eliciting buy-in on both sides of the ball.
Donovan, who also received Coach of the Month recognition with the Thunder in December 2019, is the fifth coach in Bulls history to receive the honor, joining Doug Collins (once), Phil Jackson (four times), Scott Skiles (twice) and Tom Thibodeau (six times).
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams got the nod for the Western Conference in light of his team's 18-3 start and active 17-game winning streak.