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Suns’ Monty Williams voted NBCA Coach of the Year for 2020-21

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams yells to his players during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has won the 2020-21 NBCA Coach of the Year award.

Williams was voted by his peers as the winner for helping the Suns to a 51-21 record, the second-best mark in the league.

“I am overjoyed to receive the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association,” Williams said in a statement from the National Basketball Coaches Association.

“I hold the utmost respect and admiration for the coaches in this league, so to be recognized by my peers is an incredible honor. Every coach in our league sacrifices a ton to make their teams and organizations better, so this is unbelievably humbling.”

Phoenix won its first Pacific Division title since 2007 this year and was one of four teams that finished the season in the top-10 of both offensive and defensive ratings.

Williams won the award over other viable candidates, including New York’s Tom Thibodeau, Utah’s Quin Snyder, Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Atlanta’s Nate McMillan. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Washington’s Scott Brooks and Denver’s Mike Malone were also among the coaches who garnered votes.

Williams won the honor thanks to Phoenix’s drastic turnaround. Before his arrival, the franchise went four straight seasons without surpassing 25 wins in full 82-game schedules.

In a pandemic-interrupted 2019-20 season, Williams’ first in Phoenix, the Suns went 34-39 — and that came thanks to an 8-0 run in the Disney World bubble to finish the year.

Then came the increase to 51 wins in a 72-game season, as continuity, internal development and the acquisition of All-Star guard Chris Paul paid off.

“In just two years, Monty has taken the Suns from a 19-63 team to the second-best record in the NBA this season and the Suns’ first Divisional title since 2007,” said Dallas Mavericks head coach and NBCA President Rick Carlisle. “To win the vote of our peers makes the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award one of the most meaningful in all of pro sports.”

The Suns’ winning season in 2020-21 was the first since a 48-34 finish in 2013-14 that saw the team barely miss the playoffs.

Before hiring Williams before last season, Phoenix went through five head coaches, including interims, since it last made the playoffs under Alvin Gentry in 2010. That list includes: Lindsey Hunter (2013), Jeff Hornacek (2013-15), Earl Watson (2016-17), Jay Triano (2017-18) and Igor Kokoskov (2018-19).

Williams has gone 85-60 in his two regular seasons with the Suns, guiding them through coronavirus protocols, a bubble and a roster reshape led by general manager James Jones.


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