Mike Budenholzer Named 2015 NBA Coach of the Year
The Atlanta Hawks got some real respect in the form of hardware on Tuesday morning, as it was announced that head coach Mike Budenholzer had been named the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year.
Budenholzer was regarded as a strong candidate all season after lifting the Atlanta Hawks from a fringe playoff contender to a potentially legit title contender in just one year. The Hawks had a losing record during the 2013-14 NBA season, but took the East’s top-seeded Indiana Pacers to the seventh game in their first round series.
One year later, the Hawks were the Eastern Conference’s best team with the top seed and a franchise-record 60 wins. Budenholzer’s main competition was rookie head coach Steve Kerr, who guided the Golden State Warriors to the league’s best mark. Kerr, who finished second, arguably had a less impressive run due to inheriting a team that many felt was already on the brink of turning into NBA Finals contenders.
Regardless of who was truly the better COY candidate, they both were surely deserving and it’s nice to see Budenholzer get credit for a job well done. Budenholzer took the award by a mile, too, as he landed a whopping 67 first place votes. Budenholzer’s turnaround was more impressive in the end, which also included a massive 19-game winning streak in the middle of the year that showed the team was for real.
Budholzer’s system and solid in-game management already had an average Hawks team on the rise a year ago, but the return of center Al Horford helped the team up it’s level of play on defense, while also operate more efficiently on offense. The story of the year for the Hawks may have been sharpshooting forward Kyle Korver, however, who spent half of the season chasing the nearly unattainable 90-50-50 percentage mark. Korver failed to hit the mark but was routinely a force behind the arc and at the line, and a key piece to Atlanta’s puzzle.
Thanks to Korver’s outside presence and floor spacing and the return of Horford, Budenholzer could finally piece his system together and help the Hawks realize their full potential. Whether that results in an NBA title or not, of course, remains to be seen.
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