Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is on top of the leaderboard for 2022-23 Coach of the Year odds, not even a month after he led his team to the NBA Finals.
DraftKings Sportsbook has made Udoka the +850 favorite with the Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Taylor Jenkins a decent distance away at 12-1. Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue and the Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Kidd round out the top five at 14-1.
The Celtics’ reported addition of Malcolm Brogdon certainly helped move Udoka’s odds to the top as bookmakers at DraftKings also made the C’s 2022-23 championship favorites at +550. The deal (which cannot become official until July 9) includes the Celtics sending a protected 2023 first-round pick, Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and Nik Stauskas to the Pacers. It might sound like a lot for a little, but Brogdon’s talent outweighs the number of players Boston is sending. He brings elite perimeter defense, playmaking ability and he’s a career 38% 3-point shooter. It also helps that Brogdon is one of the league’s best free-throw shooters, hitting 85.6% of his free-throw attempts last season.
Before the 2021-22 season began, the Celtics were longshots to be champions, listed at 40-1 under their first-year head coach. Respect eventually flooded in, though, as Udoka brought his team to the Finals despite the long odds. While expectations will be higher for Boston in 2022-23, I do think Udoka is capable of winning the award this time around with another season under his belt. However, I see more value with Jenkins in Memphis (for now).
Remember, these odds will fluctuate throughout the season. Going into his fourth year with the Grizzlies, Jenkins is fresh off a multi-year contract extension after his team finished the 2021-22 regular season with the second-best record in the NBA (56-26) behind the Suns (64-18). It’s more than Memphis’ record that left me impressed, though. In the regular season, the Grizzlies scored the second-most points per game (115.6), led in points in the paint, rebounds and blocks, and had the fourth-best point differential. In the postseason, Memphis led in points per game (112.5) even with Ja Morant sitting out three contests. The Grizz also beat the champion Golden State Warriors by 39 points without Morant and led by 55 points in Game 5.
The Grizzlies’ success was certainly noticed by voters, with Jenkins finishing second in the race for 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year. After all, his team was one of two teams (with the Suns) to rank inside the top six in both offensive and defensive rating during the season. What’s even more impressive is Jenkins did this all with the second-youngest roster in the league.
Memphis has even more depth this season after bringing in five more fresh faces on draft night in Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler, Vince Williams Jr. and Kenneth Lofton Jr. If Jenkins can coach this even younger team to the top again, there’s no doubt the head coach deserves his flowers.