Just a season ago, the New York Knicks went 21-45 and finished 12th in the Eastern Conference. The team was in complete shambles and desperate need of a foundation, culture, and leader. This offseason, these needs were granted with the hire of experienced head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Under his defense-first mentality and emphasis on hard work, Thibodeau helped New York develop an identity and a winning season for the first time since 2013. The team finished 40–31 and entered the playoffs as a four-seed. Although they were knocked out in the first round, the Knicks have lots to be proud of, as they saw the emergence of an all-star in Julius Randle and the growing potential of their young core this year.
With this, Tom Thibodeau, who has exceeded expectations from analytics and basketball fans around the country, has deservingly been named the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year. This marks the second NBA Coach of the Year Award for Thibodeau, who earned the honor in the 2010-11 season with the Chicago Bulls in his first season as an NBA head coach. The honor also makes him the first person to be named NBA Coach of the Year in his first season as head coach with two different franchises.
What a season.
Congratulations to our leader, Tom Thibodeau, on being named the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year. pic.twitter.com/aXHXku4t2i
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) June 7, 2021
In an interview with TNT, the Knicks head coach talked about what this award meant. “Anytime you get an award like this, I’m obviously honored. But it’s more a reflection of our group and our organization,” he said.
The Knicks have truly engineered a remarkable turnaround for their franchise, after improving drastically in all aspects of their game, especially with their defense. They leaped from 23rd in defensive rating to 4th, while allowing the lowest opponent points per game, field goal, and three-point percentage. They also made several jumps in their offensive game, going from 27th in offensive rating to 22nd and from 29th in 3-point percentage to 3rd.
“I know what this team means to this city,” Thibodeau said. “This is very meaningful to me. To have the group we had this year, the way they sacrificed and played for each other.
“Whenever we fell short the next day they’d come right back in with determination and a willingness to succeed.”
Thibodeau was awarded Coach of the Year by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league. The Knicks head coach received 351 total points in the final voting. In second place was Suns head coach Monty Williams who finished with 340 points.
“From Our Haus to Yours”