Snyder, Gobert and Mitchell Finalists for End of Season Awards
The NBA announced today that Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder has been named a finalist for Coach of the Year, center Rudy Gobert is up for Defensive Player of the Year and guard Donovan Mitchell is in the final running for Rookie of the Year. The winners will be announced at the 2018 NBA Awards on June 25 on TNT (7 p.m. MT).
Snyder led Utah to a 48-34 record during the 2017-18 season, the fifth seed in the 2018 NBA Western Conference Playoffs and the team advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second-straight year. At 19-28 going into Jan. 24, the team posted a 29-6 record to close out the season, which marked the second-best record in the NBA after that date. Utah became the first team since the 2004-05 New Jersey Nets to end the regular season with a winning record after being nine games below .500 on Jan. 22.
For the second-straight season the Jazz boasted a top-five defense with a defensive rating of 101.6, the second best rating in the NBA and had the fifth-best net rating in the NBA (4.6) in 2017-18. Additionally, Utah put together three separate winning streaks of six games-or-more. The last time that was accomplished by a Jazz squad was during the 2006-07 season. Over the last two seasons only Golden State, Houston and San Antonio have better records in the Western Conference than Utah (99-65, .604).
After missing 15 games from Dec. 16 to Jan. 17 with injury, Gobert returned to the lineup on Jan. 19, playing in every game to finish the season. After Gobert’s late January return, the Jazz posted the second best record in the NBA (30-8), the best defensive rating in the NBA (97.5), the best net rating (10.8), the lowest opponent scoring average (97.4) and were tied for the lowest opponent field goal percentage during that stretch (.431). The 7-1 center averaged the most contested shots (15.0) on the year and had the second-most blocked shots in the NBA after the All-Star break (55).
Mitchell led all rookies this season in scoring at 20.5 points per game and total points (1,616), joining David Robinson (1989-90), Larry Bird (1979-80), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-70) and Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60) as one of the last five rookies, and only guard, to lead their team in scoring while their squad won 45-or-more games. The 21-year-old set an NBA rookie-record for three-pointers made in a season, knocking down 187 on the year, surpassing Damian Lillard, who hit 185 threes as a rookie for Portland during the 2012-13 season. The Louisville product finished the season with two games of 40-or-more points, seven games with 30-plus points and 46 games with 20-plus points, the first rookie since Blake Griffin in 2010-11 to hit those marks.
The last and only Jazz coach named Coach of the Year was Frank Layden in 1984. Mark Eaton is the sole Jazzman to have won Defensive Player of the Year, doing so in 1985 and 1989 with Darrell Griffith being named the franchise’s only Rookie of the Year in 1981.
Other finalists for Coach of the Year include Dwane Casey and Boston’s Brad Stevens. The other two contenders for Defensive Player of the Year are New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Boston’s Jayson Tatum round out the first-year players up for Rookie of the Year.
The NBA Awards event will also include the NBA Most Valuable Player, Most Improved and Sixth Man, as well the NBA Basketball Executive of the Year, Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, NBA Sportsmanship Award, the Season long NBA Cares Community Assist Award and the fan-voted Play of the Year.