Atlanta Hawks: Top 5 Moments From Last Season

5 of 6

May 9, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer reacts to a foul call from the sidelines against the Washington Wizards in the third quarter in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 103-101. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Budenholzer Wins Coach of the Year

Who deserves most of the credit for all this winning? The conductor of the orchestra, of course. Mike Budenholzer is a basketball lifer who finally saw his life’s work rewarded this season.

He took this Hawks teams from 38 to 60 wins, led them to the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and led them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Some have argued that Steve Kerr should have won this award, but given the difference in expectations I’d say Bud was deserving.

He started his career coaching youth system teams in Denmark, the country in which he played professionally. Before the 1994-1995 season he was hired by the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich to be their video coordinator.

After two seasons as the video coordinator Budenholzer would be bumped up to an assistant coach role. He would stay alongside Popovich on the Spurs bench until he accepted the Hawks job before the 2013-2014 season.

That experience with the Spurs would dictate Bud’s playing style. Much like the Spurs the Hawks are built on ball movement, spacing, defense, and three-point shooting. However, his first year would not get off to a great start. Before coaching a game in Atlanta, Budenholzer would be charged with a DUI. An issue that is still unresolved.

After getting off to a decent 16-13 start, Al Horford suffered a season ending injury. This sent the Hawks into a tailspin, resulting in a 38-44 record and the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. There were still signs of life, though. The Horford-less Hawks pushed the top seed Pacers to 7 games, giving the world a glimpse of what was to come next season.

With a completely healthy roster the Hawks took the NBA by storm in Budenholzer’s second season. As we’ve already discussed it included a 19 game winning streak, the starting five being named Player of the Month, four All-Stars, 60 wins, and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. For his success Budenholzer was rewarded with the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. I’m sure his mentor was proud.

Next: The Conference Finals