Tom Thibodeau, Quin Snyder, Monty Williams 2021 NBA Coach of the Year Award Finalists

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 20, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 8: Head Coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns during the game against the LA Clippers on April 8, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. 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 Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau were named as the three finalists for the NBA Coach of the Year award Thursday.


Presenting your 2020-21 Coach of the Year finalists…<br><br>⭐️ Monty Williams<br>⭐️ Tom Thibodeau<br>⭐️ Quin Snyder #NBAAwards pic.twitter.com/v3eyFlX2HR

The three finalist were revealed on TNT's pregame show before the Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards play-in game, which will decide the Eastern Conference's No. 8 seed.

Williams, who was named the National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year on Tuesday, led the Suns to a 51-21 record, which is the NBA's second-best regular-season mark this year.

No team had a worse four-year stretch from 2015-2019 than the Suns, who went just 87-241 during that span.  Williams took over before the 2019-20 season and immediately engineered a turnaround, with the team going 34-39 and winning all eight of its games in the NBA bubble to close the regular season.

This year, the Suns were just one win away from tying the Jazz for the league's best record.

Snyder guided the Jazz to that honor. Utah earned its best regular-season winning percentage since John Stockton and Karl Malone were running the show in 1998-99.

The Jazz finished fourth in offensive rating, third in defensive rating and first in net rating, per Basketball Reference.

Utah started 4-4 but rolled off 20 wins in its next 21 games. The rest of the NBA played catch-up to the Jazz from that point forward, and Utah did well enough down the stretch to earn homecourt advantage through the entire playoffs.

Thibodeau has turned the Knicks around in just one year at the helm, guiding the 41-31 New York Knicks to a No. 4 seed in the NBA playoffs. New York had missed the postseason in each of its six previous seasons, including a 21-45 record last year.

This year's Knicks team has drastically improved on defense under Thibodeau, allowing the fewest points per game and finishing third in defensive rating. The Knicks also dominated down the stretch, going 16-4 in their last 20 games.

New York has also earned home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs for just the second time in the last 20 seasons.