In first Houston season, Ime Udoka finishes sixth in NBA Coach of the Year voting

In a loaded Western Conference, the 2023-24 Rockets (41-41) didn’t qualify for postseason play. Nonetheless, new head coach Ime Udoka made quite an impression in his first Houston season.

Houston’s 19-win improvement from a season ago (they were 22-60 in 2022-23) was the biggest year-on-year increase of any NBA team, and it was the second-largest annual growth in franchise history.

Given that improvement, Udoka drew four votes (one second-place vote, and three third-place votes) in the NBA’s Coach of the Year balloting for the recently completed 2023-24 regular season. That finished tied for sixth place with Miami’s Erik Spoelstra.

Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault, whose Thunder went from 40-42 last season to a West-leading 57-25 mark this season, was the runaway winner with 89 out of 99 total first-place votes.

Udoka and the Rockets, of course, would love to have a similar jump in the 2024-25 season — and if that happens, that could potentially build Udoka’s case for an outright Coach of the Year win. During 2021-22, in Udoka’s only other NBA season as head coach, he finished in fourth place based on his work with the Boston Celtics.

For now, though — after three years in the West basement while averaging fewer than 20 wins per season — the Rockets should be pleased to have at least some recognition for their bounce-back year.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire