Handicapping the 2012 NBA Coach of the Year Race

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent IApril 16, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 24:  Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls watches as his team takes on the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. 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.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The race for the 2012 NBA Coach of the Year award promises to be a very tight race, with several worthy candidates as the NBA regular season nears its end.

Who will come away with the award?

It’s too early to tell, but let’s take a quick look at each candidate’s chances as I handicap the seven worthy contenders.


7. Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat

The Heat are an impressive 42-7 on the season, but they’ve done nothing that they weren’t expected to do on the season, and in the eyes of some, they’ve underachieved a bit, only with a 15-10 record after the All-Star break.

Odds: 100 to 1


6. Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers

Indiana has been much improved and is all but set to land a top three seed in the Eastern Conference.  It's playing well at the right time, winning eight of 10 games and has been a consistent surprise since day one of the season.

Odds: 50 to 1


5. Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s hard to not give Brooks consideration since the Thunder lead the Western Conference with a 44-16 record. If they finish as the top seed in the West, he will get consideration, but the Thunder are a team that was expected to be exactly where they are, so he doesn’t have a great chance at winning it.

Odds: 35 to 1


4. Lionel Hollins, Memphis Grizzlies

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02:  O.J. Mayo #32 and Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 2, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or usi
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If the Grizzlies can find a way to land a top-four seed in the Western Conference, then Hollins deserves serious consideration for the award.

The Grizzlies, after a nice playoff run last season, have improved to 35-25 on the season and only sit two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 4 seed.

Odds: 25 to 1


3. Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics

Rivers has had a banged-up team that can’t rebound or score, but solid coaching decisions such as moving Kevin Garnett to the 5 and bringing Ray Allen off the bench has led to the Celtics to the Atlantic Division lead amid all the talks of potentially breaking up the Big Three all season.

Odds: 10 to 1


2. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

Everyone knew before the season that Spurs would be pretty good given the age of their veterans, but very few expected San Antonio to contend for the best record in the Western Conference.

He’s been near perfect on the bench, getting his stars the needed rest they need all while mixing in the youth of the Spurs. It’s not a stretch to say this is the best coaching job of Popovich’s career.

Odds: 5 to 1


1. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

Give Thibodeau all the credit in the world. No team in the NBA has been as banged-up as the Bulls, but it hasn’t fazed Thibodeau at all.

The reigning league MVP, Derrick Rose, has missed 23 games.

The guy they brought in to play next to Rose, Richard Hamilton, has missed 38 games, but somehow, Thibodeau has kept this team playing defense and sticking to the system.

The result has been an NBA best record at 46-14 and the clubhouse leader for his second consecutive Coach of the Year award.

Odds: 2 to 1