Head coaches Billy Donovan and Mike Budenholzer are the leading candidates for COTY, but what about the two amazing coaches in Frank Vogel and Nick Nurse? I'll start off with Frank Vogel.
Vogel was never really known to the casual NBA fan as he was the interim coach for the Pacers starting on Jan. 30th, 2011 after head coach Jim O'Brien was fired. He led the Pacers to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. He coached Indiana for 5 years and the Pacers' president Larry Bird announced that his contract would not be renewed. He left Indiana with the new all-time franchise record in wins. On May 20th, he was hired as head coach for the Magic. Vogel struggled there, as there was a lot of young talent, and he just couldn't get them going.
Frank Vogel struggled to coach this team, and he was fired in after the 2017-18 season. On May 13, 2019, a new era began for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers hadn't had a winning season since the 2012-13 season with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash. Even then they were only 45-37. From then on until now, the Lakers struggled, one year, being the 2015-16 season, their record was 17-65! The Lakers had a lot of the same players from the 2017-18 season and the 2018-19 season that they do now, yet their record was 35-47 in 2018 and and 37-45 in 2019. Yes, we could talk about how the team didn't have chemistry yet, but like I said before, these players had been with each other and played with each other, they clearly just needed a coach like Vogel to really make it all come together.
Now, I won't be telling the whole coaching backstory for Nick Nurse because most people know what he's done. I'll just cut right to it. Nurse obviously did fantastic last year, led his team to a championship win in his first year in the NBA. But when three great players leave in Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Jonas Valanciunas, how does this team still have the second best record in the east?
Nurse realizes the talent he has within his squad, as he gives more minutes to Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and starts Fred VanVleet. Anunoby now flourishes in the starting SF role and has developed into a shooter and a solid defenseman. Let's also not forget that Nurse gave Siakam the chance to play big minutes. Under Casey, in his second year, Siakam was only played 20.6 MPG. When Nurse came along, he bumped that up to 31.8. Now, most of this is because of Siakam and the legendary improvements he has made to his game, but we have to realize that Nurse gave him the opportunity to get out on the court. His dynamic offense that involves floppy offenses that get shooters like VanVleet and Anunoby open, or Siakam in the mid-range, or even get Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka the ball so they can work in the paint. The casual fan just doesn't understand, if these players went to other teams, they would just be some other mediocre guy, some guy that nobody talks about, like Hollis-Jefferson used to be. Now he has minutes and is getting in solid play during his time on the court.
Billy Donovan has had a great year, but he has the players that can thrive somewhere else, and for that reason, I would put a guy like Frank Vogel, who's done so much to change the organization in front of Billy Donovan. Don't get me wrong, Donovan is a fantastic coach and hasn't had a losing season yet, but I just feel that under the circumstances, these coaches deserve the award a bit more.