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Kenny Atkinson finalist for Rudy Tomjanovich coach of year award

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson has been named as one of five finalists for the Rudy Tomjanovich award one of two awards given by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

The Tomjanovich award honors the coach who best combines excellence in his craft ... along with cooperation with the media and fans.) The PBWA’s more prestigious award is the Red Auerbach Award. Finalists for that award have yet to be announced.

Joining Atkinson on the list of finalists for the Tomjanovich award are Mike D’Antoni of the Rockets; Mike Malone of the Nuggets, Nate McMillan of the Pacers and Doc Rivers of the Clippers.

For Atkinson, the announcement is yet another recognition of what he’s done since joining the team in 2016 after the Nets fired Lionel Hollins (who surprisingly is up for the Lakers open job.)

Known as a development guru while in Houston, New York and Atlanta, Atkinson brought the development ethos to Brooklyn, helping D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, among others, rebuild their games and their reputations. WIthout draft picks, the Nets had to find a new way of building a roster.

From 20 wins in his first year, Atkinson’s team improved to 28 wins last season and 42 wins —and the playoffs— in his, his third year.