Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has been named the 2019-20 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today.
This is the first NBA Coach of the Year Award for Nurse, who is in his second season as an NBA head coach. Nurse, the 2010-11 NBA G League Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year with the Iowa Energy (now the Iowa Wolves), becomes the first coach to be selected as Coach of the Year in both the NBA and the NBA G League.
Nurse received 90 first-place votes from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters and earned 470 total points. Two-time NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks (147 points; five first-place votes) and Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder (134 points; four first-place votes) finished in second and third place, respectively.
Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11. The seeding games, which were played July 30 – Aug. 14 as part of the season restart, did not count toward voting for the NBA Coach of the Year Award or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.
In games played through March 11, Nurse led the Raptors (46-18, .719) to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and the third-best record in the NBA even though the team’s top five players in scoring average missed at least 11 games each. During this period, Toronto ranked second in the league in defensive rating despite a 28-game absence for starting center and 2012-13 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and the departure of two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard in the 2019 offseason.
Nurse was named the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for games played in October/November (14-4) and January (12-3). He guided the Raptors to a franchise-record 15-game winning streak Jan. 15 – Feb. 10.
Under Nurse, 2018-19 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam was named an NBA All-Star for the first time and Kyle Lowry earned his sixth consecutive All-Star selection. Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell flourished with larger roles, while undrafted rookie Terence Davis II emerged as a contributor.
Nurse was named the Raptors’ head coach in June 2018 after spending five seasons as an assistant coach with Toronto. As a first-year NBA head coach last season, Nurse guided the Raptors to their first NBA championship. He is the only coach to win championships in both the NBA and the NBA G League, having won titles with the Energy (2010-11) and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2012-13) in the NBA G League.
Nurse receives the Red Auerbach Trophy as NBA Coach of the Year, joining Sam Mitchell (2006-07) and Dwane Casey (2017-18) as winners with the Raptors. Auerbach, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, coached the Boston Celtics to nine NBA championships, including eight in a row from 1959-66.