After parting ways with head coach Brett Brown, the Philadelphia 76ers spoke to a handful of potential replacements during last year's short-lived offseason. After strongly considering Billy Donovan, Mike D'Antoni, and Ty Lue for the job, the Los Angeles Clippers decided to move on from Doc Rivers.
At that point, the Sixers shifted gears and put all of their attention on the eventual Hall of Fame coach. In what felt like less than 24 hours, the Sixers hired Rivers to become the next head coach -- and the start of his stint couldn't have been much better.
Through the first month of the 2020-2021 NBA season, Rivers earned NBA Coach of the Month honors. As the Sixers were coming off of a season where they snatched the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, Rivers had them off to a hot start to the new year as they went 15-6 through the first month and some change in 2020.
Although Rivers wouldn't hoist the Coach of the Month award again since the first month of the season, the Sixers remained one of the top teams in the NBA. Despite dealing with some very key injuries, Philly remained out in front of the Eastern Conference for a good portion of the season.
While the Brooklyn Nets pulled out in front of the Sixers for the first seed at a point late during the regular season, Philly bounced back and found themselves in first place once again. By the end of the regular season, the 76ers clinched the first seed in the East in year one under Doc Rivers' management.
On Monday, the NBA announced the results of the league's next major award as New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau had been named the Coach of the Year. Although Thibodeau beat Rivers out for the award, the Sixers head coach still received some votes, acknowledging him as one of the best coaches in the league right now.
Behind Thibodeau, Phoenix Suns' Monty Williams, and Utah Jazz's Quin Snyder came Rivers, who received 24 total "points". 10 of those points came from the two first-place votes Rivers received. Six more points came from the two second-place votes, while the remaining eight points were generated from eight third-place votes.
Considering the Knicks and the Suns found themselves going from outside of the playoff picture to earning home-court advantage in the playoffs this season, it doesn't come as a shock to see Thibodeau and Williams earn the utmost respect from the voters this year.
Since the Sixers and the Jazz entered the 2020-2021 NBA season as playoff contenders, their coaches were expected to get them to a point where they earned home-court advantage in the postseason. Rivers and Snyder both earned Coach of the Year acknowledgments, though since both teams seemingly exceeded expectations this regular season.