Mike Budenholzer will be the only thing the Hawks miss from their rebuild


Last year, the Hawks started the grueling stretch of a complete rebuild. These can last anywhere from 10+ seasons, but usually, take about three to five before noticeable results. Their streak of 10 straight postseason appearances, the second longest streak in the NBA at the time, ended, as the Hawks finished with the third-worst record in the league.

Nobody likes a rebuild, especially one as extreme as Atlanta was going to have to go through, but being a treadmill team in the NBA is even worse. The Hawks had become the textbook definition of such a team.

If you are not familiar with the term, it is basically basketball hell. There are only a few teams in the NBA that can actually compete for an NBA championship, that is the way it has been since the beginning of time. However, unnecessarily, 16 teams make it to the NBA playoffs.

The Hawks always found themselves with a 4 or 5 seed, no real chance to make it past the second round, and then a crappy draft pick in the offseason. Superstars win championships, and while the Hawks had their fair share of All-Stars, they haven’t had a true superstar since Dominique Wilkins left in the 90s.

However, there was that one time. The season where a bunch of good but not great players exceeded all expectations, won sixty games, clinched the #1 seed in the East and went to the Eastern Conference Finals. Yeah, the 2014-2015 Hawks were something different, but that did not change the fact that they still were not championship contenders, getting swept by Lebron and a dismantled Cavs team.

After a couple more seasons of the same results, new ownership had finally seen enough. The Hawks were long overdue for a complete overhaul of their roster.

Unfortunately, the only piece they really needed to keep didn’t want to go through such a process of losing.

Mike Budenholzer, out of pure coaching class, can lead a team of nobody’s to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. He is that amazing at what he does, and it was apparent his entire tenure as the Hawks head coach.

He is the reason for a franchise record sixty-win season and the only Eastern Conference Finals appearance in the history of Atlanta. And when it is all said and done, he will be the only part of this rebuild the Hawks look back on with regret.

It did not take a long for Budenholzer to find a new home. Immediately after the Hawks allowed him to start looking for other jobs, the Phoenix Suns pursued him to be their next head coach but were unable to come to an agreement. Within a couple weeks after that, Budenholzer signed a deal to become the next coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Now, we are getting the opportunity to see what Bud can do with superstar talent. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the fast track to becoming the best player in basketball and he could not have a better mentor to get him there. He’s putting up an absolutely outrageous stat line of 25.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 blocks, but it is the Bucks as a team that is starting to garner some national attention.

They were the last remaining team in the NBA with an undefeated record, winning their first seven games, six of them by double-digits. It is also quite apparent they just look like a totally different basketball team. Their talent may have taken another step forward, but Budenholzer has the team playing the right style of basketball and it is making all the difference in the world.

This stat courtesy of Nylon Calculus shows the percentage of a players assists that are going to shots around the rim or from three. That is the way the game is played now. The art of the mid-range and game is gone; threes and layups win championships.

From his long-time tenure as Greg Poppovich’s assistant, Budenholzer learned half of coaching is adjusting to the way the game changes. These Bucks are playing winning basketball, and as a result, they are already receiving recognition as an Eastern Conference contender.┬áThat is what Bud can do with one superstar. Imagine what it is going to be like when Giannis has comparable talent around him.

Given his age and the market for him as a coach, it’s hard to imagine Budenholzer ever being satisfied undergoing a complete rebuild. It was an inevitable situation that led to the right move by both sides, but that does not mean the Hawks will not look back with bitterness as he succeeds with Milwaukee. This will be the only part of the rebuild the Hawks look back at with heartache.

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