NBA Awards 2019: 3 reasons why Mike Budenholzer should win the Coach of the Year Award
After Milwaukee ended their 2017-18 campaign as the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference which was quickly followed by a first round elimination by the Celtics in the playoffs, the front office knew that drastic changes will have to be made.
Following a five-season stint in Atlanta and some elite learning from Future Hall of Famer Gregg Popovich, the Bucks franchise knew Coach Bud was the best available option on the open market last summer. The organisation sacked the then head coach Jason Kidd and installed Mike Budenholzer as his successor.
From that point on, he embraced this golden opportunity of coaching a highly talented team and exceeded all possible expectations. To cap off an amazing run, Coach Budenholzer was named the All-Star Coach for Team Giannis along with Coach Mike Malone (Team LeBron), in what was only the second occasion in the last 35 seasons that the All-Star coaches were people who weren't participants in the previous year's NBA playoffs.
"I feel like me and Mike(Malone) are cut from the same cloth," Budenholzer said. "We want to be good defensively, and the players are pretty damn good offensively."
Mike Budenholzer is the same guy who orchestrated the Hawks' 60-win season back in 2014-15, and made them an ECF-calibre team.
Let's skim through a few reasons as to why this man ticks all the boxes in order to win the 'Coach of the Year' award during the upcoming NBA awards.
#1 Coach Bud led the Bucks to a league-best record in his very first year with the franchise
Right before the 49-year-old took charge, the Bucks had just ended a sub-par 44-48 (win-loss) season, having not broken the 50-win mark since 2000-01.
Whatever Coach Bud did eventually resulted in the Milwaukee Bucks finishing two games clear of the second-seed Raptors on the Eastern Conference leaderboard as well as the league's best record. Their 60-22(0.732) win-loss record for their 2018-19 outing marked Milwaukee's best regular season since 1980-81.
“We certainly felt like we could compete with anybody in the East, compete with anybody in the league,” Budenholzer said. “You have to have confidence. You have to have belief in yourself and your team. There’s a lot of that in our locker room.”
Until the Raptors caught fire to win four straight games in the ECF, Milwaukee were the clear favourites to grab an NBA Finals berth this year around. Nevertheless, Budenholzer and his Bucks almost captured the throne that sat unoccupied ever since LeBron's exit from the East.
And yes, all of this mayhem in just his first season with the franchise.