At the end of September, Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla was thrown into a firestorm. At the end of November, he’s the odds-on favorite to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. It’s amazing how far a 17-4 start can get you.
As most people know by now, Mazzulla was put in a difficult position to begin his first foray into being a head coach. The 34-year-old rookie was named interim coach by Boston after the organization suspended head coach Ime Udoka for a violation of its code of conduct after he was involved in an “improper relationship with a female staffer.” After it was deemed Udoka would miss the full season, Mazzulla was officially handed the reigns of the 2022 Eastern Conference champions.
Given the Celtics’ success under Udoka, it was no surprise the team would be good. But a 17-4 start on their way to the NBA’s best record is certainly something to be impressed by, considering their head coach had no idea what his job would be just weeks before the season.
That’s why Mazzulla has found himself at the top of BetMGM’s board for COTY odds.
NBA Coach of the Year odds
Joe Mazzulla: +250
Will Hardy: +500
Rick Carslisle: +850
Mike Budenholzer: +1100
JB Bickerstaff: +1200
Mike Brown: +1200
Taylor Jenkins: +1400
Monty Williams: +1600
Mazzulla isn’t just at the top of the board in terms of odds, either. He’s become one of the favorites among the betting public. Mazzulla has commanded 8% of the total tickets placed on COTY, trailing only New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green (23.1%) and Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone (11.1%). His 17.6% handle number is only second behind Green (19.8%).
The Celtics’ success obviously isn’t all at the hands of Mazzulla. Boston believes it has two MVP candidates playing on a near-nightly basis, with Jayson Tatum (+350) having the third-best odds to take home the award after the teams first 21 games. He has done a masterful job of guiding Boston through the injury of starter Robert Williams, utilizing a matchup-based lineup with Grant Williams and Derrick White rotating in and out to great success. Though it doesn’t look like the Celtics will be without Robert Williams much longer.
With continued success throughout a stretch of games against the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, Mazzulla could find himself knocking on the door of the award — as the Celtics knock on the door of the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed.