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2019 PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

Georgetown v Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 09: Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks is seen looking on during the game between the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Georgetown Hoyas at Fiserv Forum on March 09, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

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Kurt Helin

1. Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

2. Doc Rivers, Clippers

3. Nate McMillan, Pacers

Mike Budenholzer has been the favorite for this award from the start of the season, but with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games, improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. Part of that was how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.

Dan Feldman

1. Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

2. Dave Joerger, Kings

3. Doc Rivers, Clippers

I would be great with any of four coaches winning this award, but a ballot has only three places. Mike Budenholzer transformed the Bucks into an elite force offensively and defensively in his first year, though Jason Kidd certainly positioned Milwaukee’s next coach – whoever it was going to be – to look good. Dave Joerger gave the Kings an identity around speed, oversaw excellent player development and kept together a team overflowing with young players looking to establish themselves. Doc Rivers guided the starless Clippers through transition and into the playoffs. Nate McMillan would get my vote for Coach of the Last Two Years, but fell just short of my ballot each season. The Pacers coach built a strong defense, also kept a team heavy on expiring contracts united and maintained competitiveness after Victor Oladipo went down.

Dane Delgado

1. Mike Budenholzer, Bucks

2. Nate McMillan, Pacers

3. Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers

Who else could it be but the Milwaukee Bucks coach? With a roster largely constituent of the same pieces as the year before, they’ve made it to the top of the Eastern Conference as the only team in the NBA to reach 60 wins, the best record in the league. The right coach can unlock elite talent, and Budenholzer was exactly what Milwaukee needed. I’m biased in giving my second and third votes to a former and current Portland Trail Blazers coach, but both have done much the same thing this season. McMillan and Stotts have evolved their game, softened their stance in several areas, and adapted to a modern game under difficult circumstances — including injuries to major players —to climb to the middle of the playoff race. Both the Pacers and the Blazers have squeezed more wins out of their roster than talent would suggest possible, and that’s because of their coaching staffs.