NBA Awards: Best Bets For Coach of the Year and 6th Man of the Year
The NBA is gearing up to begin its stretch run with nine games on Thursday. With the Association’s teams returning from a week-long All-Star break and less than two months left in the season, I figured there was no better time than the present to look at the best bets for a couple of the league’s end-of-year awards. The odds for the awards are from PointsBet.
Coach of the Year
Coach of the year appears to be a two-person race. The Boston Celtics’ Joe Mazzula and the Sacramento Kings’ Mike Brown are essentially co-favorites at odds of +200 and +220, respectively.
This is an exciting race. Both coaches have done a fantastic job, although the Celtics and the Kings entered the with different expectations. The Celtics, who added 6th Man of the Year candidate Malcolm Brogdon in the offseason, were coming off a loss in the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the Kings rebuilt their roster after finishing with the Western Conference’s 12th-best record (30-52) for the third straight year.
Mazzula, in his first season in the first chair, was put in a challenging position taking over for Ime Udoka just before most teams reported to training camp. He has led the C’s to the best record in the NBA at 42-17, with the highest scoring margin of +6.1. While the Celtics have a pretty favorable schedule, they only have a-half game advantage over the Bucks and a three-game edge over the 76ers in the Eastern Conference.
Brown has the Kings with the third-highest winning percentage at .641 and in a position to snap a 16-year postseason drought. While making the playoffs is no guarantee, Sacramento has already exceeded their projected win total (33.5), and they have five more victories than last season. They also are on pace to finish with a winning record for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.
Sacramento’s offense has improved dramatically under Brown, ranking second in the league. The Kings have improved on the defensive end though only slightly, as they are 22nd in defensive ranking compared to 27th a season ago.
Brown has been the Coach of the Year thus far, with Mazzulla next in line. However, it is very conceivable that the Kings will take a step back over the last 25 games.
There is value in putting a little money on each coach. Mazzulla is likely the safer play since, excluding the two COVID seasons, the COY’s team has won at least 55 games over the last 10 years.
It is worth considering that Doc Rivers was the last rookie to win the award in 2000. Denver’s Mike Malone is also a viable option at +330.
Best Bet: Place a small bet on Mike Brown and Joe Mazzulla. Another option is to wait a little longer to see how the next few weeks play out, though you are losing value.
6th Man of the Year
The Association’s 6th Man of the Year competition is just as tight as Coach of the Year. Therefore, it is another solid betting option.
The 6th Man of the Year is a three-person race between Malcolm Brogdon, Norman Powell, and Tyrese Maxey. Brogdon is the leader at -170, while Powell (+350) and Maxey (+400) have significant value. Russell Westbrook was a viable candidate before being jettisoned by the Lakers and ultimately signing with the Clippers.
Brogdon has solidified the Celtics’ backcourt and bench this year. Brogdon averages 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 turnovers while shooting 48.2% from the field and a league-best 45.5% from beyond the arc over 25.3 minutes a game in 50 appearances, all off the bench.
Brogdon has also produced an offensive rating of 113.9 and a defensive rating of 111.1. He also has a Personal Impact Efficiency of 13.2 and a plus/minus of 1.7. Brogdon has scored in double-figures 37 times, including 11 games of at least 20 points, and has topped the 30-point plateau once.
Powell has made seven starts this season though he has been much better off the bench. The 29-year-old wing is the NBA’s top scorer at 17.7 points a game off the bench while also producing 3.1 caroms, 2.1 3-pointers, and 1.8 assists in 25.3 minutes over 43 appearances off the bench. He also shoots 49.7% from the field and 42.9% from the 3-point line when not in the starting lineup.
Powell has produced an offensive rating of 120 and a defensive rating of 116 as a reserve. He also owns a PIE of 11.9 on the season. Powell has scored in double-figures in 40 of his 50 appearances, including 13 20-point games and three 30-point efforts.
Maxey has been coming off the bench the least amount of the contenders and has missed 19 games this year. He averages 16 points, 2.4 caroms, and 2.6 assists while shooting 46% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line.
The 2022-23 the Man of the Year is a close race. Brogdon is the rightful leader heading down the stretch, but there is more value in Powell.
Voters love scorers for this award, and Powell has been the best in the business this year off the bench. Plus, the Clippers could be much better in the second half of the season with their trade deadline moves.
Best Bet: Malcolm Brogdon (+350)