76ers: Nick Nurse deserves some love for Coach of the Year

New Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse deserves serious consideration for the Coach of the Year award. Here’s why.

Nick Nurse, 76ers
Nick Nurse, 76ers / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

With a 29-15 record so far, the Philadelphia 76ers have managed to remain ultra-competitive in the East. The conference is now home to numerous star-laden contenders and surprising up-and-comers, but the franchise has somehow managed to stand on business as a legitimate threat to win the championship.

On paper, the 76ers don’t have the depth of high-end talent that teams like the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and LA Clippers boast. They may have the reigning MVP in Joel Embiid, but aside from Tyrese Maxey, there’s really no player who can comfortably call a star on the roster.

What they do have, however, is a stroke of genius on a nightly basis from the sidelines — and boy has he done a masterful job steering the wheel in the first half of the season.

Nick Nurse has been a revelation for the Philadelphia 76ers this season

Nick Nurse has done a phenomenal job so far in this campaign, leading the 76ers to the third-best win-loss card in the East despite a near-constant rotation of nagging injuries from Embiid and other key players.

Under his guidance, Embiid was able to unlock his playmaking flair, while Maxey grew into an All-Star caliber point guard despite being new to the role on a full-time basis. Tobias Harris is having one of his strongest seasons yet, while players like Kelly Oubre Jr., Nicolas Batum, and De’Anthony Melton quickly proved themselves to be starting-caliber contributors.

Renowned for his uncanny brio in the X’s and O’s, Nurse has brought his switchy schemes over to Philly after a successful stint in Toronto which includes a championship. The 76ers have the sixth-best offense in the league, but they have done it behind a scoring attack bent on optimizing individual strengths and shot profiles instead of conforming to league-wide trends predicated on three-point shots and high pace.

Defensively, Philadelphia is ranked seventh, and Nurse has employed an aggressive style to highlight their litany of rangy defenders. The team ranks first in steals and fourth in blocks per game, and makes the proper concessions on that end to neutralize the usual risks of employing such a hawkish disposition on D.

To sum it all up, Nurse has been the biggest offseason addition for the franchise, and few coaches have had more impact than him on the hardwood this season. When it comes to engineering effective schemes, he remains unmatched, and he should garner serious consideration to bag the Coach of the Year award for how he’s given the Philadelphia 76ers a lot of staying power.

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