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2021 PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau

BROOKLYN, NY - MARCH 15: Head Coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks talks to the media before the game against the Brooklyn Nets on March 15, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Kurt Helin

1. Tom Thibodeau (Knicks)

2. Monty Williams (Suns)

3. Quin Snyder (Jazz)

The toughest decision on the ballot this year — all three of these guys are deserving, all three did phenomenal jobs, and at different points this season I had all three of them on top of this list.

I ultimately went with Tom Thibodeau because more than installing Xs and Os in New York, he helped turn around a culture. This is a team that is the four seed in the East and has the fourth-ranked defense in the NBA because they play harder than their opponent every night, and they don’t beat themselves — when was the last time you could say that about the Knicks? Plus, he trusted in Julius Randle on offense and allowed him to blossom. Honorable mention to Doc Rivers, who could easily be on this list as well.

Dan Feldman

1. Tom Thibodeau (Knicks)

2. Monty Williams (Suns)

3. Quin Snyder (Jazz)

Tom Thibodeau has coached long enough to develop an easily identifiable style. Defense first, toughness, playing hard. The Knicks exuded those traits – despite being less talented than Thibodeau’s prior winning teams. Not only did the coach quickly instill his trademark defense, he effectively empowered Julius Randle offensively and developed younger players R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. Though there are still some questions about how Thibodeau will fare in the long run with his constant emphasis on the present, he aced this regular season.

The Jazz and Suns had the NBA’s best records, and their coaches definitely factored in their success. But both teams had underrated rosters.

Chris Paul had more to do with Phoenix’s rise than Williams. But Williams still contributed – including creating a culture where the demanding Paul would elevate, rather than alienate, his teammates.

Likewise, Snyder oversaw an environment where Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell could reconnect after their rift. Snyder’s unselfish offense and diligent defense definitely helped set the vibe.

Nets coach Steve Nash was neck-and-neck with Snyder for third. Despite frequent availability issues for his stars and an evolving supporting cast, Nash kept Brooklyn’s offense humming.