Ahead of what is likely to be an outstanding contest on Thursday between the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets at the 02 Arena, London, Hawks' coach Mike Budenholzer opened up to Give Me Sport about his past experiences with the San Antonio Spurs, and the threat of the Nets.

The rookie head coach had been with Spurs since 1996, learning under the great Gregg Popovich as his assistant, and coaching Spurs' legend Tony Parker.

When asked how much he learnt from that experience and how that shapes him as the head coach he is today, Budenholzer cited the amount the Spurs' players had helped him over the years, especially Parker.

"For me and my growth to be a professional head coach, my preparation was huge to me. To spend those years in San Antonio and to be with the great Gregg Popovich, that was amazing," explained Budenholzer.

"The players were also really important to me. I learned a ton from Pop and the assistants, but you learn a lot from the players as well.

"Working alongside the elite players I did with the Spurs was really beneficial for me. It's important in sports organisations that you share and learn from each other.

"I feel fortunate to have been with Tony Parker from the time he was drafted. To watch him emerge and become a top-tier point guard was great.

"All of that starts with a work ethic. Tony put in so much time and effort to become an elite player, that type of thing educates me of what I have to do in Atlanta."

The NBA draft is on June 26th, and questions about the draft class have been regular for head coaches recently.

Budenholzer was more coy in his assessment of the their quality, and he says his focus with the Hawks is to develop a great team from within.

"I'm just trying to coach my team really. I don't have an opinion on the draft class. That's the job of the GM's and the scouts out there. They will be out there working hard," he continued.

"I'm just trying to keep my focus on our team and trying to improve and get better.

"We are working on the subtleties of our game. When to attack and when not to attack. We want to have our own flavour and our own style in Atlanta, which suits the strengths we have."

Budenholzer couldn't hide his excitement regarding the game against the Nets, who will be without Deron Williams, and he says the international camps he ventured on with the Spurs helps.

"When the schedule is set up so that you play a team quite soon since your last match-up, it means that both teams get a leg up," added Budenholzer. 

"We will be a little more familiar with what they do and of course they will be familiar with what we do.

"Missing Deron [Williams] will affect their group. He is one of the best players in our league, but we put more focus on what we want to do.

"The opportunity to play in this game is great for us and the players are really excited. I'm lucky to have had plenty of international game experience from my time with the Spurs.

"We had a lot of training camps abroad and games abroad. There is certainly a lot of respect for the European game.

"I'm really looking forward to coming and experiencing London. The whole group is excited to be coming."

Topics:
Tony Parker
NBA Playoffs
NBA
San Antonio Spurs
Atlanta Hawks