Bud Wave: The Mike Budenholzer Experience

The infamous “Bud Wave” after an Atlanta Hawks victory

Mike Budenholzer and the Atlanta Hawks are on track to making their Eastern Conference leading 9th playoff appearance in a row, also a third consecutive playoff berth in his three years as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Budenholzer became the Hawks head coach in 2013 after spending 18 seasons as an assistant on one of the leagues’s most respected organizations, the San Antonio Spurs and under one of the best coaches we’ve seen in modern NBA history, Gregg Poppovich. 

Mike Budenholzer first introduction in 2013

Coach Bud brought a winning pedigree to the franchise after earning four championships in San Antonio. Budenholzer has built one of the Eastern Conference most consistent teams since coming to Atlanta and have Hawks fans feeling a sense of hope in the city of Atlanta that probably hasn’t existed since the Dominique Wilkins era. In his first season, some of the changes in the organization that Coach Bud implemented went unnoticed by most national outlets in my opinion. From the talent and the style of play in which our  2013-14 Atlanta Hawks roster was constructed, there weren’t high expectations to see the Hawks pose a threat in the Eastern Conference at all. However, with the new system Budenholzer brought to the team from his days in San Antonio which the players are sharing the ball, sometimes giving up an open shot for a quality pass that could lead to a higher percentage shot. Defensively, the system was high on implementing team defense and just bringing an  unselfish approach to the team. 

Atlanta Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer talking with his team during Game 5 on Monday. Credit Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Budenholzer would lead the Hawks to a First Round playoff appearance as the 8th seed and had the top seeded Indiana Pacers on the brink of elimination; however, Indiana responded down 3-2 and eliminated Atlanta. The Hawks were expected to get swept by the highly favored Pacers and their superstar MVP candidate Paul George. The Budenholzer experience didn’t stop there, in his second season at the helm, the Atlanta Hawks shocked the basketball world. In December of the 2014/2015 season, Budenholzer led the Hawks to a 14-2 record that month and was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. Many teams would’ve been excited to earn 14 wins; however, this Hawks team had another huge accomplishment on the horizon, in the following month, Atlanta would go undefeated in the month of January and earn Coach Budenholzer a second consecutive Coach of the Month award. Also, the entire starting lineup of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Demarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Horford would go on to earn “players of the month”. 

Feb 14, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Eastern Conference head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks (center) talks to guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards (2, left) and forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (23, right) during practice at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Budenholzer had an amazing breakout year in 2015; he went on to coach the Eastern Conference in the NBA All Star game as well as coaching Team Africa in a NBA Africa exhibition game. His year didn’t stop there, Bud was promoted to President of Basketball Operations in addition to his duties as head coach as well as being inducted into the Pomona Pitzer hall of fame. Budenholzer proceeded to lead the Hawks to their first Southeast division crown and first division title since 1994. Also, the Hawks earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference and warned their first trip in team history to the Eastern Conference Finals before their season ended against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Injuries derailed any chance the Hawks had at winning that series, but last season was one that many true Atlanta Hawks fans whom endured the struggles of this team would never forget and always remember the amazing run in 2015. 

Overall, Mike Budenholzer’s career record stands at 134-95 and his .587 winning percentage is in the top 30 of “all time” winning percentages as a Head Coach with the minimum of at least two years coaching. I expect Coach Bud and the Atlanta Hawks to continue to thrive and build a consistent contender in the NBA for years to come. This is just the beginning of great things to come for Hawks basketball so Hawks fans, remain “True To Atlanta”

Michael Thomas (@ChosenOne_MT10)

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