Mike Budenholzer Wins Coach of the Year Award for 2014-15 NBA Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2015

Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer gestures during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 104-80. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis

Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer edged Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks to win the NBA's Coach of the Year Award for the 2014-15 season.

The NBA announced the news Tuesday:

The Atlanta Hawks' Mike Budenholzer, who guided the team to the best regular season in franchise history, is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year.

Budenholzer received 67 first-place votes and 513 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The Golden State Warriors' Steve Kerr, who led the Pacific Division champions to a franchise-record and NBA-high 67 victories in his first season as an NBA coach, finished second with 56 first-place votes and 471 total points. Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks was third with one first-place vote and 57 total points.

Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Jaryd Wilson of Hawks.com passed along comments from Budenholzer:

Chris Vivlamore @CVivlamoreAJC

Gregg Popovich was the one to call Mike Budenholzer and inform him of award. #ATLHawks

Chris Vivlamore @CVivlamoreAJC

Budenholzer on Popovich: "I can’t even begin to articulate how thankful I am and all the things I’ve learned." #ATLHawks

Jaryd Wilson @JarydWilson

The Hawks organization, upon finding out from NBA about the award, called Popovich to ask him if he wanted to break the news to Bud. He did.

Budenholzer spent nearly two decades as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich, last year's winner of this award, before moving to the Hawks. Atlanta went 38-44 and lost in the first round of the playoffs in his first season at the helm.

Mar 27, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer talks with center Al Horford (15) during a time out in the fourth quarter of their game against the Miami Heat at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 99-86. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-US
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

There was a remarkable jump in Year 2. Atlanta won 60 games, seven more than any other team in the Eastern Conference, and posted a 35-6 mark at home. The massive 22-game improvement is likely what clinched the award for him.

Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes voters made the right choice:

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Just like the Popovich squads Budenholzer coached, the Hawks are built on team basketball. They ranked second in assists per game and fifth in points allowed during the regular season. Their efficient style of play made up for a lack of star power.

Now the focus is on the playoffs. Atlanta opened the first round with a 99-92 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The next game for the newly crowned coach of the year and his team is Wednesday night.

While he is focused on making a deep playoff run, this award confirms what many in the league believed: Budenholzer is one of the hottest names in coaching, and his star remains on the rise.

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