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PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 12: Assistant coach Mike Budenholzer of the San Antonio Spurs calls a play while facing the Golden State Warriors in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2013 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE/Getty Images

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks

2. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

3. Jason Kidd, Milwaukee Bucks

I think you can flip a coin between those two top guys. There is no bad call there. I want to reward Budenholzer for what was really a two-year process to get this team really playing in that Spursian style.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks

2. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

3. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

No one expected the Hawks to win 60 games this season and secure the top seed throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the equal-opportunity, Spurs-like offense that Budenholzer has installed is the primary reason why.

And speaking of the Spurs, Popovich has his guys peaking at the right time, laying destruction to all comers during an 11-game winning streak — one that has reminded all of us that his team is the defending champions, and is very capable of repeating the feat this season.

As for Kerr, helping the Warriors leap from simply a 50-win playoff team to the league’s best squad in his first-ever season as head coach will get him plenty of consideration. But the unexpected rise of a less-talented Hawks team was more impressive, if only just slightly.

Sean Highkin

1. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

2. Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks

3. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

The only significant rotation player on the Warriors’ roster who wasn’t there last year is backup point guard Shaun Livingston. So with essentially the same roster, Kerr transformed the Warriors from a pretty-good 51-win team to a historically great one, the league’s best team at both ends of the floor.

Budenholzer got the entire Hawks’ roster to buy into his system and essentially created Spurs East, where every player is put in a position to do the one or two things they’re successful at.

Popovich is the LeBron of this category — if you’re judging by who’s the overall best, he should win it every year. This season, he just did what he always does.

Dan Feldman

1. Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta Hawks

2. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

3. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

The margin between the top two is razor thin, and I sided with Budenholzer, because Kerr seems more reliant on his assistants. Maybe I should credit Kerr more for hiring and enabling that staff, but it seems the Warriors were committed to doing that before hiring Kerr. That’s part of the reason I gave Executive of the Year to Bob Myers.

I’m not one of those “Popovich should win every year” people. It’s Coach of the YEAR, and there are some years he makes less of an impact – especially on a team with so little roster turnover. But just last year we all determined he was clearly the game’s best coach, and he gets the benefit of the doubt for the third spot. He has the Spurs peaking at the right time, and there’s nothing more important for this title-contending veteran squad.

Others who coached especially well this season but missed the cut: Jason Kidd, Quin Snyder, Brad Stevens, Frank Vogel, Kevin McHale and Tom Thibodeau.