Will Ime Udoka immediately rise to the top of his profession?
ESPN on Thursday predicted the Boston Celtics head coach will be among the top contenders to win the NBA Coach of the Year award for the 2021-22 season. Udoka earned 16 points in a poll of ESPN NBA analysts, finishing third behind Miami Heat boss Erik Spoelstra (23 points) and the Brooklyn Nets’ Steve Nash (22). Udoka also garnered the second-most first-place votes, 16.7%, trailing only Nash (22.2%) in that category.
Udoka is set to begin his first season in charge of the Celtics and his debut campaign as an NBA head coach. He replaces Brad Stevens, whom the Celtics promoted to president of basketball operations in June, on Boston’s bench and will lead an overhauled roster and coaching staff.
Whether Udoka fulfils ESPN’s predictions also will depend on factors outside of his control, particularly how well the Nets’ star-studded roster gels under Nash and how closely the Heat come to challenging the elite squads in the Eastern Conference.