Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green went West. Key players missed stretches of the season due to injury. It led basketball watches and pundits to predict a great fall for Toronto this season.

Instead — thanks to a creative, shape-shifting defensive scheme, player development, and a clever offense — the Raptors had a better regular-season record than they did the season where they won a championship.

That earned Nick Nurse NBA Coach of the Year honors.

The award was announced on TNT Saturday morning.

.@Klow7 and @FredVanVleet present Nick Nurse with the 2019-20 NBA Coach of the Year award! 🙌#NBAAwards pic.twitter.com/x80foNIFSF

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 22, 2020

Nick Nurse received 90 of the 98 first-place votes for Coach of the Year, with Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer finishing second and Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan in third.

“When you see Nick on the sidelines, that’s who he is as a person. Relaxed, but so hard-working. Creative and dynamic. Always setting the tone for our team – attacking our next championship, rather than defending our last,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “That is who Nick is, that is why we believe in him. His journey to this tremendous honor has been a long one – we are so happy to see him recognized this way.”

Nurse has helped turn Toronto into the best player-development team in the NBA — Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet — in addition to having some of the more creative Xs and Os around the league.

The Heat’s Eric Spoelstra finished fourth in the voting, followed by the Lakers’ Frank Vogel, the Grizzlies Taylor Jenkins, the Pacers’ Nate McMillan, and the Celtics’ Brad Stevens. Voting was done by select media members and based only on games through March 11, before the NBA shut down due to the coronavirus.

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