Raptors' Nurse named finalist for NBA's coach of the year award
MVP race between LeBron James, 2019 winner Giannis, Harden
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is a finalist for the NBA's coach of the year award.
Nurse, in his second year on the job, led the Raptors to a 46-18 record before the 2019-20 season was suspended March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Raptors had the same record after 64 games in their championship 2018-19 season, but Toronto matching that feat was impressive given that superstar Kawhi Leonard left for the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency and the Raptors played through several injuries to key players in this campaign.
Milwaukee's Mike Budenholzer and Oklahoma City's Billy Donovan are the other finalists.
Voting on the NBA's awards has already taken place by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The NBA has not set specific dates when the winners will be announced.
None of the games taking place at the NBA's restart at Walt Disney World factored into the voting, because ballots were due before games began again July 30.
The league took the step of saying games played before the league suspended the season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic could factor into award consideration, out of fairness to the eight teams that were not invited to the restart.
Toronto has gone 3-1 since the NBA restarted and next plays Sunday against Memphis.
The NBA also announced the finalists for the other major awards on Saturday, including most valuable player hopefuls Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and LeBron James.
Antetokounmpo, who won the award last season, entered Saturday averaging career highs in scoring (29.7) and rebounding (13.7) for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Harden, the 2017-18 MVP, is on track to win his third consecutive NBA scoring title with 34.3 points per game for the Houston Rockets.
James, a four-time MVP, is averaging 25.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and a league-leading 10.3 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers. The only players with more MVP awards are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with six and Bill Russell and Michael Jordan with five each.
WATCH | Giannis Antetokounmpo collects 2019 MVP award:
The rookie of the year finalists are Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson. Williamson and Morant were the first two picks in the 2019 NBA draft, while Nunn was undrafted.
The finalists for most improved player are Heat forward Bam Adebayo, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram. Doncic was the rookie of the year in 2018-19.
WATCH | Raptors' Siakam named 2019 most improved player:
Antetokounmpo is also a finalist for defensive player of the year, along with Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Gobert has won it the last two years.
The 6th man of the year finalists are Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder and Los Angeles Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and three-time winner Lou Williams. Williams would be the first four-time winner.
All of the awards are voted on by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
With files from Field Level Media