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Mike Budenholzer Heavily Favored to Win 2019 NBA Coach of the Year Award

Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton and the Bucks are flying high. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License].
  • Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is heavily favored to win NBA Coach of the Year honors
  • Milwaukee has the best record in the NBA at 50-17
  • The Bucks have their highest winning percentage since the 1971-72 season 

Adam Silver can go ahead and have Mike Budenholzer’s name engraved on the Red Auerbach Trophy.

The Bucks bench boss is heavily favored to win NBA Coach of the Year honors after leading Milwaukee to its first 50-win season in nearly two decades. Sportsbooks have Coach Bud available at prohibitive -500 odds, meaning he has an 83.3% chance of winning the award.

Rounding out the top three are Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone at +350, and Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan at +900.

2019 NBA Coach of the Year Odds

Coach Team Odds
Mike Budenholzer Milwaukee Bucks -500
Michael Malone Denver Nuggets +350
Nate McMillan Indiana Pacers +900

Big things were expected of Budenholzer when he arrived in Milwaukee during the offseason, and he hasn’t disappointed. The former Coach of the Year was hired to modernize the Bucks’ stagnant offense and to find ways of freeing up All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had been the subject of frequent double and triple teams in Jason Kidd’s iso-heavy approach.

Budenholzer wisely installed a four-out attack and stretched the floor with multiple three-point threats to give Antetokounmpo more room to operate in the paint. The result has been more scoring, more possessions, and a whole lot more threes. Milwaukee has gone from a distant 25th in three point attempts in 2017-18 to second this season.

2017-18 Bucks vs 2018-19 Bucks


106.5 (15th) Points 117.4 (2nd)
39.8 (30th) Rebounds 49.3 (1st)
23.2 (14th) Assists 26.0 (8th)
-0.3 (20th) Plus/Minus +9.1 (1st)
108.8 (10th) Offensive Rating 113.5 (3rd)
109.1 (18th) Defensive Rating 104.7 (1st)
-0.3 (20th) Net Rating +8.8 (1st)

The additional spacing has allowed Antetokounmpo to roam the key with impunity, and the 24-year-old is connecting on close to 64% of his two-point field-goal attempts. Only Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan are shooting a higher percentage, but neither player comes close to Antetokounmpo’s offensive impact.

Antetokounmpo isn’t the only player who has flourished in Coach Bud’s free-flowing system. Malcolm Brogdon is posting career-highs in points and rebounds, Brook Lopez has shattered his personal records for three-pointers attempted and made, and Khris Middleton was named to his first NBA All-Star team earlier this year.

Budenholzer has even found a way of reigning in Eric Bledsoe, and has the mercurial point guard playing the most disciplined basketball of his nine-year career.

The Bucks’ .746 winning percentage is its best since 1971-72 when Milwaukee advanced to the Western Conference Finals.

Milwaukee currently sits two games ahead of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference and five games ahead of the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. The team’s .746 winning percentage is its best since 1971-72 when Milwaukee advanced to the Western Conference Finals.

This Bud’s for You

Michael Malone and Nate McMillan should both he proud of what they’ve accomplished this year. Malone had the Nuggets atop the Western Conference standings for much of the season and McMillan has kept the Pacers afloat following Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury on January 23rd.

However, neither coach has had as transformative an effect on his franchise as Budenholzer. The 49-year-old has turned the Bucks into the East’s top team and has Milwaukee poised to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in 45 years. Under Budenholzer, “Fear the Deer” is no longer just a cute slogan; it’s a legitimate warning for any team with championship aspirations.

You won’t get much value on betting on Bundenholzer at -500 odds, but wagering on anyone else is tantamount to throwing your money away. Following Milwaukee’s lead and bet big on Bud.

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