BOSTON (CBS) — After an extraordinary regular season, a pair of Celtics are up for year-end awards.
Chances are they won’t be bringing home any hardware at the NBA Awards Show in late June, but Boston head coach Brad Stevens is one of three finalists for the NBA’s Coach of the Year while forward Jayson Tatum is a finalist for the league’s Rookie of the Year.
Stevens is joined by former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and Utah’s Quin Snyder. Casey is the favorite to win the award after guiding the Raptors to a 59-23 record and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. He was fired last week after Toronto was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs (the same team the Celtics now own a 2-0 lead over in the Eastern Conference finals). Snyder deserves a lot of credit for leading the Jazz to a surprising 48-34 record and the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. They lost to the Houston Rockets in five games in the second round.
Stevens certainly made his case for this year’s award, navigating the Celtics to a 55-win season and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference despite losing a pair of star players during the season. The Celtics remained in the hunt for the No. 1 seed late in the season, even though they lost Gordon Hayward on opening night and Kyrie Irving in mid-March.
As for Tatum, he’ll likely lose out to Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons (15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists per game), with Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (20.5 points per game on 44 percent shooting) also making a strong case for the award. But Tatum put together a phenomenal rookie season for Boston, thriving in his expanded role following the Hayward injury. Tatum, who was just 19 at the start of the season, started 80 games for Boston, averaging 13.9 points on 48 percent shooting (including 43 percent from three-point range). While it doesn’t matter for the voting, Tatum has upped his game in the playoffs, averaging 18.1 points over Boston’s 14 games.
Houston’s James Harden, Cleveland’s LeBron James and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis are this year’s finalists for the NBA MVP. Davis is also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, along with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Utah’s Rudy Gobert. Celtics forward Al Horford is a disappointing omission from that category.
The winners of this year’s NBA awards will be announced on June 25.