Budenholzer wins coaching honor, and it shouldn’t have been close

Mike Budenholzer finished with 67 first-place votes to Steve Kerr’s 56. (Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

Mike Budenholzer finished with 67  first-place votes to Steve Kerr's 56. (Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

Mike Budenholzer finished with 67 first-place votes to Steve Kerr’s 56. (Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

Steve Kerr is a really good coach. A team, even one as talented as Golden State, doesn’t go 67-15 unless the head coach knows what he’s doing. But it’s clear Kerr has done the second-best coaching job in the NBA this season and it’s stunning the vote for coach of the year was so close.

The award went to the Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer, as it should have. The Hawks went 60-22 in the regular season, a more than slight improvement over last year’s record of 38-44. There was no significant change in the roster, save having Al Horford for an entire season. Kerr, who finished a relatively close second in the voting, inherited a team that went 51-31 the year before and finished 67-15.

The Hawks’ won-loss percentage jumped from .463 to .732 — 269 points. The Warriors’ won-loss percentage jumped from .622 to .817 — 185 points.

The Hawks have a backcourt of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. Very good. The Warriors have a backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Crazy good.

Danny Ferry built this team but Budenholzer has made every player better and got all of them to buy into a share-the-ball, pace-and-space system. The Hawks don’t have anybody close with the star power of Curry but still finished fourth in the league in scoring (102.5 points) and  second in assists (25.7).

But according to the voting, Budenholzer finished with 67 first-place votes to Kerr’s 56. There were 130 ballots cast (5-3-1 scoring system), and Budenholzer finished with 513 points to Kerr’s 471.

Seven voters did not place either Budenholzer or Kerr in first: San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich had three first-place votes, Boston’s Brad Stevens two, and Milwaukee’s Jason Kidd and Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau one each.

One voter, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, left Budenholzer off of his ballot completely. His ballot: Popovich, Kerr and Stevens in that order.

So Mike Budenholzer hasn’t done one of the three best coaching jobs in the NBA this season according to Ding? File this one under the world’s great mysteries Maybe if the Hawks had won 61 games, Budenholzer would’ve warranted a third-place vote.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is among a number of major newspapers that does not allow its writers to vote for awards, except the Hall of Fame.

Atlanta broadcasters with votes were Andre Aldridge of Fox Sports South (Budenholzer, Kerr, Kidd), Bob Rathbun of Fox Sports South (Budenholzer, Utah’s Quin Snyder, Kerr) and Steve Holman of the Hawks’ radio network (Budenholzer, Kerr, Kidd).

There obviously are conflicts of interest among many voters. Holman works for the Hawks. Aldridge and Rathbun are employed by a team broadcast partner. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Jim Barnett is in his 30th year broadcasting Warriors games. Dell Curry, who works for Fox Sports Carolina, is the father of Golden State’s Steph Curry. But the hope in situations like this is that perceived biases balance each other out.

To see every voter’s ballot, click here

Here’s the voting breakdown:

Coach, Team                                      1st                       2nd                3rd                Pts
Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta                67                 58                 4                 513
Steve Kerr, Golden State                      56                 61                 8                471
Jason Kidd, Milwaukee                       1                   5                   37                 57
Brad Stevens, Boston                           2                   4                   28               50
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio              3                   —               23                38
Kevin McHale, Houston                      —                   —                  13               13
Tom Thibodeau, Chicago                    1                   1                    2                   10
Quin Snyder, Utah                               —                   1                    4                    7
David Blatt, Cleveland                         —                   —                   3                  3
Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers                    —                   —                   2                 2
Terry Stotts, Portland                          —                   —                   2                  2
Rick Carlisle, Dallas                            —                   —                    1                   1
Dwane Casey, Toronto                        —                   —                   1                   1
Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix                       —                   —                  1                   1
Monty Williams, New Orleans             —                   —                1                   1
Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— AJC: Millsap, Sefolosha, Horford — what’s going on with Hawks?
— MyAJC: Hawks need a better Millsap for long playoff run
— MyAJC: Budenholzer knows what playoff success is all about
— MyAJC: Hawks hoping to leave Atlanta playoff wreckage behind
— AJC: Hawks lose lottery pick but get better playoff match-up: Nets
— MyAJC: Jordan Spieth: Perfect champion, perfect story
— AJC: Masters short takes: Spieth’s first major won’t be his last
— MyAJC: It’s a Masters Sunday, and here comes old Phil Mickelson
— AJC: Masters short takes: Spieth hopes to avoid Norman flashback
— MyAJC: Jordan Spieth toying with Augusta, Masters’ field
— AJC: Masters short takes: Spieth’s historic run, and the other guy
— MyAJC: Woods is back, or he’s not, or he is, or he’s not…
— AJC: Masters short takes: The future (Spieth) and the past (Crenshaw)
— AJC: It’s Masters morning and old guys have laready withdrawn
— MyAJC: On eve of final Masters, Ben Crenshaw embracing every moment
— MyAJC: Woods loose, confident, but is he really ready for Masters
— MyAJC: Braves stop the noise with opening victory
— AJC: Short takes: Small ball, Teheran, bullpen and a Braves’ win
— AJC: LIVE: Braves (or what’s left of them) open series vs. Marlins
— AJC: Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel)
— MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward
— MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve
— AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury
— MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it

 

Reader Comments 0

25 comments
Harpie
Harpie

Ding is a dingbat!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Give it a week or 2 or 3 and then see if all you folks are still singing his praises...


atlfanman
atlfanman

Great job by Coach Budenholzer! Very well deserved! He has shown a mastery of knowing his player's strengths and weaknesses and using their skills to strategize victories for the Hawks.


GO HAWKS!

DawgNole
DawgNole

Good news for a city that earns precious little on the national pro sports stage. Considering what MB's done with the championship-starved Hawks in just two seasons, anything less than first place would've been a travesty.

Let's hope he can now guide this ATL team past Round 2 of the postseason--for the first time ever.

Chi Ali
Chi Ali

steve kerr gets a pass he rode the bulls coattails he was a terrible gm, its not like the warriors were a sub 500 team with marc Jackson, he talks a good game on tnt but given a similar roster kerr would get outcoached coach buds is the best x-o guy in the league this year, I would vote buds, stevens, kidd .  Also Bob Rathman should not be given a vote

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Chi Ali

It's Rathbun, clown.

But you're right, that model of toadyism shouldn't be given anything more than a silencer in the kisser.

creative
creative

I'd like to know the 3 morons that voted him 3rd

Sautee
Sautee

@creative Well, there IS a link, if you truly want to know. it's right there in the body of the blog.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Hats off to coach Bud! He is the class of the NBA and by far the best coach in the state of GA. What makes him different from Richt, Gonzalez, Johnson, and Smith (before being fired), is that coach Bud truly wants to win it all and will tell you that anything short is a disappointment. Even more amazing is what he's been able to accomplish so far with his foolish owners in full swing. The other coaches in GA are far better supported yet are satisfied with good not great results year in and year out. Richt has to be at the top of that list given the program's reputation in the SEC and top 10 recruiting classes he brings in every year. If he had just stuck his neck out years ago and stated NTs were the annual team goal, maybe his teams would have rallied around him more and won one by now. Thanks to coach Bud for bringing a winning attitude to this state not seen since maybe never. Please don't let the GA status quo of coaching draw you in to accepting lesser results than your teams are capable of producing.

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

The writer from Bleacher Report is from Bleacher Report.  There's your answer.  

El-Bey
El-Bey

He gets a trophy and a chauffeur driven limo for a year.  Ooops, forgot he already has a chauffeur as a result of the DUI, baby !!!  It's all good coach !! Great job and keep grinding !! Well deserved.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

Schultz,


I'm not sure what your beef is with the "questionable" votes.  Popovich is the top coach in the league by far, and he had the Spurs gunning for the #2 seed with a 39-year-old and a 38-year-old as his two best players.  Stevens could have won only 15 games with that roster, and noone would have been surprised.  Kerr took a very good team and transformed it into an overnight juggernaut.  


I thought Bud was the best this year as well, but don't act like there weren't competitors.

Sautee
Sautee

@RichardKPE Kawhi might have something to say about that "best player" evaluation you just made.


If TD and MG are the best players, why did Kawhi win the Finals MVP, LOL?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

This really seems to show that players and a coach are a million times more important than an owner, GM, or front office.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Congratulations Coach !!!

GO Hawks !!!

JackClemens
JackClemens

Considering Bleacher Report is a fanalysis site and not a legitimate sportswriting site, it's not surprising to get dumb votes like that of Kevin Ding(bat). You're right, it was Budenholzer and shouldn't have been remotely close considering how stacked Golden State is and their record last season.

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

ESPN comments section is hilarious. Stupid and arrogant GS fans saying that Kerr should have won instead of Coach Bud. You put Curry and Thompson in Knicks or Timberwolves and those teams would win 50+ games too. Coach Bud turned a low investment roster into title contenders. Who the hell knew that Demarre Carrol would be so good? He was considered a bust by most teams before he got here and you can thank Coach Bud and his system for that.

slydawg
slydawg

Congrats to Coach Bud. However, a compelling argument can be made for Kerr, Stevens, and Kidd. I think us here in Atlanta are closer to the issue and hold some bias because we are intimately familiar with Hawks history. No one expected this kind of season.

Most writers fall back on the best record argument when it comes Coach/Player of the year awards. Kerr undoubtedly turned the Warriors into the leagues most dominant team, something Golden State has never been.

Stevens worked with a playground team most of the year.

Kidd, likewise, has a bunch of has been lottery picks and no Jabari Parker.

Coach Bud did the best job, when weighing all the evidence, but I can understand why it was close.

DigitalDaron Podcast
DigitalDaron Podcast

Congrats to Coach Bud!!!! He deserves it our city deserves it.  Danny Ferry deserves some props too.  Either him or Kerr were a fair choice, but i think Bud was the correct choice for 2 reasons: First he did the most with the least.  Secondly I AM A BIG HOMER AND THE HAWKS ARE OUR HOMETEAM!!!!! Its no wonder we voted Coach Bud the Most Important Reason for the Hawks success.  Listen to the podcast  here http://digitaldaron.podbean.com/e/episode-113-power-poll-12-most-important-people-to-the-atlanta-hawks-success/

DamonH
DamonH

" The Warriors’ won-loss percentage jumped from .622 to .817 — 185 points"

Considering the Conference (Western Conference 8 playoff teams, 7 with a .600+ winning %; East 8 playoff teams: 5 over .500; 3 at .500 or under) even a jump of 185 points is itself impressive.

Sautee
Sautee

@DamonH True. But Bud was working with a bottom 5 payroll. GS payroll is over $73M to the Hawks $58.3M.

FalconUGAFan
FalconUGAFan

Great job by Coach Bud and Ferry. Time for Ferry to come back, but doubt he will.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Great Job this year by Coach Budenholzer !                   Go Hawks !