Knicks' RJ Barrett on NBA Coach of the Year race: 'I feel like you've got to give it to Thibs'

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Coby Green
·2 min read
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Tom Thibodeau pointing in grey pullover, no players visible
Tom Thibodeau pointing in grey pullover, no players visible

The Knicks have stunned just about everyone this season with their play, rising as high as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference seemingly out of nowhere.

The roster is mostly the same from last year -- with a few good tweaks made -- but the biggest addition seems to have been Tom Thibodeau as head coach.

He's helped this team flip the switch completely in less than a year, and somehow has them in playoff contention during season in which most people thought they'd still be sitting towards the bottom of the East.

And for those exact reasons, RJ Barrett -- likely along with the rest of the Knicks roster, staff and front office -- believes that he deserves to be named the NBA's Coach of the Year this season.

"I think Thibs is doing a great job," Barrett said during Knicks shootaround Monday morning. "For us to have really the same starting lineup and a lot of the same players from last year, and then to completely turn it around to what we have this year, just credit to Thibs and the staff.

"Guys are getting better. I think for the same group that we had last year to come and do something like this now, I feel like you've got to give it to Thibs."

The Knicks are still tied for the No. 4 seed in the East with the Atlanta Hawks, thanks to a stunning nine-game win streak that the team is looking to extend to 10 on Monday night against the Phoenix Suns -- which is ironic, since their coach, Monty Williams, is arguably the favorite for the award after helping bring his team up from the outside looking in on the playoff picture, to now being the No. 2 team in the West.

The Suns haven't made since 2010, which is a bit longer than the Knicks' drought set since 2013, but this is Williams' second season in Phoenix, while this is just Thibodeau's first in New York.

Additionally, Williams already had a star in Devin Booker to his disposal, and then the Suns traded for 11-time All-Star Chris Paul.

Thibodeau turned Julius Randle into an All-Star, the favorite for Most Improved Player, and a potential All-NBA player in less than a full season.

Whether he ends up winning the award or not, Thibodeau has certainly found a home here in New York.