Suns head coach Monty Williams and Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla have been named the NBA’s coaches of the month for the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively, the league announced (via Twitter).
Williams, the reigning Coach of the Year, has led Phoenix to six straight victories and the West’s top seed thus far at 15-6. The Suns held the league’s top overall record (64-18) during the 2021/22 regular season and were expected to be good again in ’22/23, but Williams’ coaching certainly deserves recognition.
Phoenix currently has multiple key players sidelined — veteran forward Jae Crowder has yet to play this season as the Suns are trying to trade him; his replacement in the starting lineup, Cameron Johnson, underwent meniscus surgery and has only played eight games; and 12-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul will miss his 12th consecutive game on Friday with right heel soreness (Twitter link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports). Reserve guard Landry Shamet also missed seven games while in the concussion protocols, but returned to action last week.
Mazzulla, the youngest head coach in the league at 34 years old, has guided Boston to the league’s best record at 18-4. The Celtics hold the No. 1 seed in the East, two games ahead of the 15-5 Bucks.
Mazzulla’s NBA debut as a head coach has been quite impressive. In addition to navigating the drama surrounding the organization in the wake of head coach Ime Udoka‘s suspension prior to the season, big man Robert Williams and free agent addition Danilo Gallinari have yet to play in 2022/23. Williams is reportedly targeting a return by Christmas following a second knee surgery in 2022, but Gallinari will likely miss the entire season with a torn ACL.
Though he currently has an interim tag, Mazzulla is expected to eventually have the interim designation removed and sign a long-term contract to remain head coach of the Celtics — the only question is when, not if.
According to the NBA, the other coaching nominees in the West were Chauncey Billups, Mike Brown, Willie Green, Will Hardy, Taylor Jenkins and Michael Malone, while J.B. Bickerstaff, Mike Budenholzer and Rick Carlisle were nominated in the East.