We've heard (under the breath of the MVP discussions) an ongoing debate on which head coach deserves coach of the year praise. Many have thrown names like Steve Kerr of the Warriors or Jason Kidd of the Bucks. While those guys do have their teams sitting pretty heading into the last stretch before the post season, the fact that this discussion is actually on the table boggles my mind.
The fact of the matter is, when it comes to who's the NBA Coach of the Year, the answer is simple. Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks. No one else should even be mentioned and no debate, argument, discussion or opinion should factor another decision. What Budenholzer has done in Atlanta is nothing short of remarkable. In his second season, and with no real off season splashes, "Coach Bud" has astutely done what so many others have tried (and failed) to do, recreate the mold of the San Antonio Spurs.
Before I hear the Kerr or Kidd arguments, let's first look closer at the improvements the Hawks have made from just last season.
The most obvious improvement is the Hawks' record. Through 63 games this year, Atlanta is 50-13 which is already twelve more wins than they had all of last season. However, the way they've won those 50 games is what's most impressive. The Hawks are averaging 25.7 assists per game while averaging 101 points per game. This means nearly half of their points come off assists. Just as eye opening, their leading scorer is Paul Milsap with 16.9 points a game. Along with Milsap, there are four other Hawks averaging double figures, reinforcing the predication of their offense on the assist.
Look, I'm not discreditting coach Kerr or Coach Kidd, what they've done with their respective squads is great and, seeing as both teams are young, their longevity for greatness is looking bright. But, Budenholzer, in less than two years mind you, has taken a group of decent players who were, essentially, playing glorified pick up ball and turned them into the Spurs of the Eastern Conference. So, I'll leave you with this final thought. When it comes to who should receive Coach of the Year praise, its a no brainer. The answer, and only answer, is Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer.