Milwaukee Bucks: Mike Budenholzer officially named Coach of the Year

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 28: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 28: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

After leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 60-win season in his first year in charge, head coach Mike Budenholzer was named the 2018-19 Coach of the Year Monday night.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is going to have to clear out a little more room in his trophy case.

It was announced during Monday night’s NBA Awards show, broadcasted on TNT, that Budenholzer was officially named the 2018-19 KIA Coach of the Year after leading the Bucks to a 60-22 record, which stood as the best in all of the NBA during the regular season.

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Budenholzer edged out fellow finalists in Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, as revealed in the final balloting.

This marks the second time the 49-year-old has earned the honor as he previously took home the award during the 2014-15 season in what was his second year at the helm with the Atlanta Hawks.

Of course, some parallels can be drawn between that year’s Hawks team and this season Bucks team as the Hawks also compiled a 60-22 season and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in a four-game sweep.

And while the Bucks’ run to the Conference Finals came up against the eventual NBA champions in the Toronto Raptors, who dismantled the Bucks in six games, that’s as far as the comparison between the squads Budenholzer both led can reasonably go.

The biggest difference Budenholzer had to face with upon coming to Milwaukee compared to his time in Atlanta was the opportunity to coach someone as skilled and physically gifted as Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

In Antetokounmpo, Budenholzer had a player to construct an entire philosophy on both ends of the floor to cater to the Greek phenom’s many strengths and the results of developing such a system trickled on down throughout the entire Bucks depth chart. Beyond Antetokounmpo earning All-NBA and All-Defensive honors as well as being a leading candidate for this year’s Most Valuable Player, Eric Bledsoe joined Antetokounmpo on this year’s All-NBA Defensive First Team and Khris Middleton made his first All-Star appearance this season as well.

Not only that, but Budenholzer oversaw the ongoing career reinvention of veteran big man Brook Lopez as he took his shooting and rim protecting specialties to new heights and combo guard Malcolm Brogdon crafted the eighth 50-40-90 season in NBA history in what ended up being a career year for the pending restricted free agent.

As was seen on the court and off it by all accounts, the impact Budenholzer and his staff’s arrival was absolutely immeasurable in terms of lifting the Bucks out of the middling cycle that held them back not only the past few seasons under this current window, but for most of this century.

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Being an integral catalyst and to be a piece in crafting one of the most successful seasons in Bucks franchise history, congratulations goes out to Budenholzer for this well deserved honor.