The Atlanta Hawks were THE story of the first half of the 2014-2015 NBA season, taking many by surprise by becoming one of the elite teams in the eastern conference. Coach Budenholzer had a lot to do with the transformation of this current version of the Hawks versus the team he inherited two seasons ago.
He improved in his second season with Atlanta from a 38-44 record to a 60-22 record, and was able to notch the #1-seed as well as the division title for the first time since the ’93 season. A 22-win improvement is certainly something that will catch voters’ notice, as Coach Budenholzer implemented many of the strategies learned from future hall of fame Coach Popovich in the 18 seasons he spent in San Antonio. He spent the first two years as the video coordinator for the Spurs, then the next sixteen as an assistant coach.
In his tenure with San Antonio, he earned four NBA championships as an assistant and clearly understands what it takes to run a successful team. The main highlight of the this season with the Hawks was the incredible 17-0 stream Atlanta went on in January, officially putting this team on the map as a threat for their current playoff run. Coach Budenholzer beat out new head coach Steve Kerr who led the Golden State Warriors to the best record in the league at 67-15.
Many feel that Kerr should have won the Coach of the Year award just like there’s sure to be much uproar for James Harden if Stephen Curry ends up taking MVP honors. Regardless, Coach Budenholzer earned his stripes, captivating 67 of the total votes to firmly put him in first place. Kerr finished in second with, while surprisingly Jason Kidd finished in third.
Showing a supreme amount of class, Coach Budenholzer had this to say on the voting:
Below is a video of Coach Budenholzer graciously accepting his award in a press conference: