The midway pick: Herro. In a runaway.
The contenders: Billy Donovan, Chicago; J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland; Taylor Jenkins, Memphis; Erik Spoelstra, Miami; Steve Kerr, Golden State.
Spoelstra hasn’t won this award but this season might be his best coaching job to date. The Heat are a true contender, have played well over half their games to date on the road, and haven’t had Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler very often. Kerr’s brilliance, if anyone forgot it exists, has been on full display this season. But the biggest surprises in the NBA to date might be the Cavaliers, Bulls and Grizzlies. It’ll be tough, though not impossible, for Cleveland to keep this going because of injuries, but the Bulls and Grizzlies look very much for real.
The midway pick: Donovan, in a very close call over Jenkins. Nobody thought the Bulls would be atop the East at this point. Chicago just keeps rolling with punches, and Donovan is the calm in the eye of the storm.
The contenders: Cade Cunningham, Detroit; Jalen Green, Houston; Franz Wagner, Orlando; Evan Mobley, Cleveland; Scottie Barnes, Toronto.
These are the top five rookie scorers, but that’s not entirely why they are the five to make this list. Cunningham is finding his groove, Green has been explosive and Wagner might be way ahead of whatever schedule the Magic envisioned for his development. What sets two of these guys apart, however, is how they have impacted winning. Barnes is in a tremendous spot, learning from winners in Toronto. Mobley, however, went to a place where little was expected and has excelled.