Hawks' Budenholzer is from the legendary Greg Poppovich coaching tree

Hawks’ Budenholzer is from the legendary Gregg Popovich coaching tree

The Atlanta Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer, who shocked the sports world by leading the team to the best regular season in franchise history, took home the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today.

Budenholzer won in a close race over first-year coach Steve Kerr, who guided his Golden State Warriors to a team-record and NBA-high 67 wins. Budenholzer’s Hawks won 60 games this year, the best in franchise history, and earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Budenholzer received 67 first-place votes and 513 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters. Kerr finished second with 56 first-place votes and 471 total points. Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks was third with one first-place vote and 57 total points.

Budenholzer led Atlanta to a 60-22 record in his second season, besting their previous high of 57-25 set in 1986-87 during Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins’ playing days, and that feat was also accomplished in 1993-94.

After posting a 38-44 record last season, Budenholzer oversaw a 22-win improvement. Atlanta tied for sixth in the league in offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) and ranked seventh in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions). Six players averaged double figures in scoring, but none eclipsed 17 points per game. The Hawks set a franchise record for three-pointers with 818, ranked second in the NBA in assists (25.7 apg) and finished in the top five in field goal percentage (fourth), three-point field goal percentage (second) and free throw percentage (fifth).

Atlanta opened the season 5-5 before going on an absolute tear by winning 35 of its next 38 games, a stretch that included a franchise-record 19-game winning streak. The 35-3 run also featured a 17-0 January, the best calendar month in NBA history and a perfect run that earned the Hawks’ starting five the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month and Budenholzer his second NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month award of the season. Also, a team-record of four Hawks players were selected to the NBA All-Star Game, coached on the East team by Budenholzer.

The Coach of the Year Award is named after legendary coach and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach, who guided the Celtics to nine NBA Championships. In 1996, Auerbach was honored as one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History as the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary.

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