NEW ORLEANS — The way Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer built up Quin Snyder before Monday’s game, it’s no surprise that the Utah Jazz had an offensive outburst in a blowout win.
Coach Bud certainly wasn’t excited to suffer a 25-point lopsided loss and allow the Jazz to score 120 points, but he is a big fan of his former right-hand man.
The two got to know each other well while they worked for the San Antonio organization, and then they were both in Atlanta during the 2013-14 season when Snyder was Budenholzer’s lead assistant.
Their friendship and respect have remained strong over the past three seasons.
When asked to point out one or two things Snyder contributed during his season in Atlanta, Budenholzer rattled off a lengthy list of positives.
That included “his offensive mind, his creativeness” for the team and individuals as well as teaching players how to do DHOs (dribble handoffs), re-screens, pick-and-rolls and best angles to take.
“He just has a very creative mind from an offensive standpoint. I would say individual skill development too,” Budenholzer said. “I think he’s very creative and helped a lot of our players just grow in their own ball-handling, pick-and-roll setup, using screens. He’s very, very good. He had a big impact in that year.”
Former Jazz forward Paul Millsap agrees.
“We were pretty close when he was here. For both of us, we see the game completely different than a lot of people,” Millsap said. “I was one of those guys he could come talk to about whatever and actually understand what he’s talking about. I think that relationship was pretty good and pretty important.”
Snyder is a sponge when it comes to absorbing information, so it was certainly to his benefit to bounce around from one coaching opportunity to another as he worked his way up to becoming an NBA head coach. After leaving his Missouri job in 2006, Snyder went from the Spurs organization as the D-League coach in Austin to being an assistant with the Sixers, Lakers, CSKA Moscow and the Hawks before finally settling into his current gig.
Millsap’s team struggled mightily against the Jazz this season, losing two games by a combined 52 points, but the four-time All-Star is happy that Snyder has found success as a head coach.
Millsap just wasn’t expecting a potential 50-win season to emerge from his old stomping grounds so quickly.
The Jazz have now won 10 of their last 13 and three straight as they've worked their way up to the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 33-19 mark. ESPN.com has Utah's odds of making its first playoff appearance since 2012 at 99.9 percent.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting him to move this fast, so I take my hat off to him and the organization for putting their players in good position and the opportunity to succeed,” Millsap said of Snyder. “This year they’re a really good team. I was a little surprised so soon, but I knew eventually they’d be a good team with Quin, just because how precise he is with basketball. He’s really smart, understands the game well. I figured it would trickle down to the players at some point.”
As for his relationship with Bud, Snyder said they were kindred spirits so it worked out well. He said first and foremost, they are good friends. After that, it helped that they were on the same page from a basketball standpoint.
“We both just enjoy the game as much as anything,” said Snyder, whose team takes on the Pelicans tonight in the second leg of a three-game trip. “Some of the most fun times we had coaching was just sharing ideas, and I think trying to figure out ways to be a little bit creative, but also we both believe what we believe as far as the way the game should be played, the things you want to see your team do.
"That doesn’t make it easy to make your team to do that.”
It sure worked well in both matchups this season for the former apprentice.
“We can pat ourselves on our back for about five seconds,” Snyder said, “and then it’s time to keep going.”