Mike Budenholzer Wins 2019 NBA Coach of Year Award over Mike Malone, Doc Rivers

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 25, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 23: Head Coach Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks looks on against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 23, 2019 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

For the second time in his career, Mike Budenholzer is the NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the league's best record during the regular season.

Budenholzer beat out Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets and Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers for the honor.

Budenholzer was hired by the Bucks in May 2018, three weeks after he parted ways with the Atlanta Hawks. While all the focus last offseason was on LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee landing Budenholzer turned out to be the most impactful signing of the summer.

The Bucks went from a mid-tier Eastern Conference franchise to the best team in the NBA overnight. They won 60 games for the fifth time in franchise history and first time since 1980-81.

One of the biggest changes Budenholzer made was emphasizing the three-point shot.

"Coach Bud wants us to shoot more threes," Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon told The Athletic's Eric Nehm in October. "A lot more threes."

The Bucks went from 25th in three-point attempts per game in 2017-18 (24.7) to second with 38.2 this season. Even though their percentage actually went down (35.5 to 35.3), the increased attempts helped the offense lead the league in points per game (118.1) and rank fourth in efficiency.

For all of the attention the team's offensive philosophy got, the Bucks also led the NBA in defensive efficiency (105.2 points allowed per 100 possessions).

The biggest difference Budenholzer made was unlocking the full potential in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 24-year-old set career highs with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

He's also got a chance to become the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993-94 to win NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.

In an excellent year for coaches around the NBA, Budenholzer was the clear standout for everything he brought to the Bucks. The 49-year-old made himself one of the league's best coaches during his five seasons with the Hawks, which included a 60-win campaign and Coach of the Year in 2014-15.

The 2018-19 season showed Budenholzer belongs on the short list of best coaches in the NBA right now. He's got the hardware to prove it.

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