During an 82-game NBA season, head coaches have to handle strategy sessions, player chemistry management, and scouting talented opponents. Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer recently won his second NBA Coach of the Year award. The National Basketball Coaches Association gave him the honor in 2019, and he won in 2015 after a 60-22 season in Atlanta. Guiding the Bucks to the No. 1 seed in the East in the 2019 playoffs was no easy task. He also helped turn superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo into a legitimate MVP candidate. Being a two-time coach of the year helped Mike Budenholzer join some elite coaching company. Keep reading to find out what company Budenholzer has joined and what Bucks fans can expect from him the rest of the season.
His time in Atlanta
Before we discuss his success with the Milwaukee Bucks, let’s talk about Budenholzer’s tenure in Atlanta. When he coached the Hawks, he built a system that was very successful during the regular season. During his run in Atlanta, the Hawks had a phenomenal 2014-15 season, as they won 60 games and had four players make the All-Star team.
Although the Hawks had a lot of regular season success with Budenholzer, they didn’t do much in the playoffs, as they were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals during their 60-win season.
Why Atlanta’s mistakes benefit the Milwaukee Bucks
Under Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta had just a 43.6% winning percentage in the playoffs. One mistake with the Hawks was the construction of the roster. They had no clear-cut star to get the ball to when they needed buckets in high-pressure playoff scenarios.
Things are different in Milwaukee. Budenholzer developed his playbook to showcase Giannis Antetokounmpo’s strengths, and he is putting up MVP-caliber numbers this year. The Bucks were one of the most exciting teams to watch during the regular season, and they finished with a 60-22 record. That was the second time a Budenholzer-led squad finished with 60 or more wins, and fans can hope the postseason results will be better this time around.
Milwaukee took care of business against Detroit in the first round, finishing the sweep in very decisive fashion with double-digit wins in each game. Although the Pistons were missing Blake Griffin the for the first two games of the series, he didn’t do much to keep things close as the Bucks scored at least 119 points in every game. The average margin of victory was 24 points per game, and it will be an excellent second-round series against Boston.
Good news on the horizon?
The good news for Milwaukee in its sweep of Detroit is that Pau Gasol should be back for the second-round series against the Celtics. Gasol has missed the last month with an ankle injury, but he should provide an impact on the offensive end of the floor when he returns. He was a low-key addition to the roster late in the season, but he brings championship pedigree after winning titles with the Lakers.
It will be a great matchup of experienced, dominant big men when Gasol faces Boston’s Al Horford, and we expect an excellent series.
How did Mike Budenholzer join select company?
In addition to having the Bucks firing on all cylinders, Mike Budenholzer deserves credit for his Coach of the Year win. He did something that only six other coaches have done in NBA history — win the NBA Coach of the Year award with multiple franchises.
Pat Riley, Don Nelson, Mike D’Antoni, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Bill Fitch, and Hubie Brown also did it with two or more franchises. Riley won multiple championships with the Lakers, while D’Antoni has been successful in both Phoenix and Houston. Hubie Brown is an excellent resource of basketball knowledge, so it was no surprise for us to see him on such a prestigious list, too.