Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau Expected to Win NBA Coach of the Year

Brian ChappattaCorrespondent IIMay 1, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls argues with referee Scott Foster #48 during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse on April 23, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers defeated the 89-84. 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)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Well, if the rumors are true, then the voters for NBA Coach of the Year did the right thing and picked the candidate most deserving of the honor: Tom Thibodeau.

According to, Thibodeau will be presented with the award Sunday, which marks the start of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Thibodeau led the Bulls to the NBA's best regular season record, 62-20, in just his first season as a head coach.

That's one factor that makes him stand out for the award than some of the others who were talked about.

Gregg Popovich? He has won several NBA Championships as a head coach and with the same core group of guys. 2010-2011 was Thibodeau's first experience working with Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.

Doug Collins? George Karl? While I respect what those two did with teams that lacked a superstar, Philadelphia finished seventh in the East and Denver ended up fifth in the West.

For coaches who have had experience before, finishing in the middle of the pack is nice, but not accolade-worthy. 

The Bulls had the league's top defense by some measures, and the team's defense was universally recognized as among the league's best. The vast improvement on that end of the floor could clearly be attributed directly to Thibodeau.

Not all has been rosy for the first-year head coach. Injuries forced Thibodeau to adjust his lineups accordingly and lean on players like Kurt Thomas more than he expected to. He also received criticism early in the season for starting Keith Bogans over Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.

Yet, he stuck to his principles and led the Bulls to the top seed in the entire playoffs. The first-round series against the Indiana Pacers was tougher than most fans and experts expected and despite the 62-20 mark, many will consider the season a failure if Rose and Thibodeau don't bring NBA Championship Banner No. 7 to the United Center.

Is that fair? Maybe not.

But that's what the Coach of the Year brought upon himself from getting his new squad to perform so well in the regular season.