NBA Odds: Ime Udoka Making Early Coach Of Year Run With Rockets

Udoka's picking up right where he left off


Nov 24, 2023

First-year Rockets head coach Ime Udoka is working some early-season magic with Houston.

Joining a Rockets team with minor expectations amid their rebuilding/youth stage, Udoka entered a completely new environment. Two years removed from an NBA Finals debuting as a head coach for the Celtics, right before a year-long suspension that ended his time with Boston, Udoka is working with a clean slate. Yet, the luxury of a title-contending core is no longer in place.

Does that diminish what Udoka’s done thus far? No, not at all.

In fact, it’s only highlighted his coaching impact, leaving no room to lean on stars like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown as bail-out excuses for Udoka’s work at the helm. Sure, the Rockets had financial flexibility entering the offseason after Udoka’s hiring, but even signing guard Fred VanVleet — Houston’s biggest splash — wasn’t enough to slide the organization into premature contention talks in the Western Conference.

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

Now, 14 games into Houston’s 2023-24 campaign, the Rockets made notable strides, sneaking Udoka’s name into the early NBA Coach of the Year discussion, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

At 8-6, Houston sits as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.

Here’s a look at the odds:
Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma City Thunder (+450)
Ime Udoka, Houston Rockets (+550)
Chris Finch, Minnesota Timberwolves (+600)
Jamahl Mosley, Orlando Magic (+800)
Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers (+1000)
Nick Nurse, Philadelphia 76ers (+1000)
Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics (+1000)
Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (+1200)

Last season, Houston won just 22 games and finished second-to-last in the West. The picture-perfect draft position, right? Nope.

Even after racking up 60 losses in the race for the eventual No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft Victor Wembanyama, Houston flopped. The Rockets plummeted to fourth in the draft lottery after being in the middle of a three-way tie with the San Antonio Spurs — who selected Wembanyama — and Detroit Pistons for the best odds at landing the first pick (14% chance).

Despite it all, Udoka’s made the most of what Houston’s provided — so far. The Rockets lead all NBA teams in defensive rating (106.8), allowing 104.4 points to opposing offense — the fewest of any team in the league.

That same potential was on full display in Boston where Udoka helped establish a top-notch defense that propelled the Celtics to an NBA Finals appearance.

Only time will tell how sustainable Udoka’s magic proves to be down the line with the season just 20% completed.

Thumbnail photo via Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports Images

Picked For You