The 2014-2015 NBA season has had more than its fair share of “Can you believe that!” moments and MVP-caliber performances. The MVP race is as close as it’s ever been with Steph Curry, LeBron James, James Harden, and even Russell Westbrook have all made their cases for why they deserve the award reserved for the best player in the league.
With all the high-profile players this season, the NBA Coach of the Year race has been widely overlooked. For every MVP candidate, there is at least one coach doing a fantastic job in leading their team. Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, Kevin McHale of the Houston Rockets, Dave Joerger of the Memphis Grizzlies, Terry Stotts of the Portland Trailblazers, and even Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks have all made their cases for Coach of the Year. Here’s a short look at Kerr and Budenholzer, the two front-runners for this year:
Steve Kerr: Turning down Phil Jackson’s offer and deciding to coach the Warriors instead seems to be one of the best decisions Kerr has ever made. Kerr has turned the group of shooters, passers, and defenders into the best team in the Western Conference. Under Kerr’s guidance, the Warriors have soared; in fact, Golden State is No. 2 overall offensive team in the league, No. 1 in defense, and No. 1 in pace of play. If the Warriors can keep up this level of play, Kerr and his team will bring back the franchise’s first championship since 1975.
Mike Budenholzer: In my opinion, Budenholzer is the Coach of the Year by a long shot. The Hawks don’t have a single superstar on their roster. Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Al Horford, and Kyle Korver were all All-Stars and solid players; but none of them would be considered in the top 10 players in the NBA. Not having a future Hall of Famer on his squad hasn’t hurt Budenholzer or the Hawks at all—the Hawks have the best record in the NBA, and were 33-2 between November and January. With his share-the-ball style and team trust, Budenholzer has produced a team that can win in any situation.