With the 2018-2019 off-season officially underway for the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the first thing that the organization did was get their leading man Mike Budenholzer inked as the head coach for the next four seasons.
Budenholzer at age 48, is a product of the ever so popular Popovich coaching tree and has spent the last five seasons at the Atlanta Hawks head coach. In those five seasons Budenholzer went 213-197, saw the playoffs in four out of five seasons in Atlanta and won Coach of the Year honors in 2014.
One of the reasons why Budenholzer is so widely respected throughout the league is Budenholzer’s natural ability to get the most potential out of his role players. This is important because as most of us Bucks fans know outside of the K.E.G (Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo) contributions from their role players were streaky at best and downright unbearable to watch at times at its worst throughout the 2017-2018 season.
The Bucks rosters as it is right now has 11 guys on contract for the 2018-2019 season. (Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton, Snell, Dellavedova, Maker, Wilson, Zeller, Brogdon and Brown) Not under contract is restricted free-agent Jabari Parker and Jason Terry who has expressed interest in coming back for his 20th NBA season to the Bucks.
Who of these 11 to 13 potentially returning guys have the most to gain with the hiring of Mike Budeholzer?
First is Eric Bledsoe, because Budenholzer plays a very aggressive defensive scheme that is based on double teams and trapping the ball. This will allow Bledsoe to use his elite speed to get his hands on the balls, which is when he is most effective and get steals to go out on fast breaks. Bledsoe was a player that struggled with consistency throughout his first season with the Bucks; having a scheme that plays towards the strengths of Bledsoe will help him be that consistent third option for the Bucks moving forward.
when the Milwaukee Bucks traded for Eric Bledsoe early in the 2017-18 season they bragged about how much length and quickness the Bucks had in their starting five but despite that had finished 17th in defensive rating. Budenholzer will help unlock Bledsoe’s potential because he is a defensive oriented coach who will add consistency to the defensive scheme and because his teams have played at a much higher pace than the Bucks teams of the last five years who have finished in the lower third of the league in pace every year for the last five seasons except for in the 14-15 season.
Bledsoe’s strength is his ability to drive to the basket and draw contact at the rim, and Bud giving him the opportunity to take the ball in transition will make for some easy baskets for Bledsoe which is important on the nights where his shots aren’t falling.
The next group who will see a boost in production under Budenholzer are the wing players, more specifically Sterling Brown.
Budenholzer and his staff have an extraordinary talent for taking mid-level wing players and getting the most of out them. Bud did this with guys like Kent Bazemore, DeMarre Carroll and as of more recently Taurean Prince. Sterling Brown mirrors the play style of Kent Bazemore. Both with an ability to come off the bench and put up buckets in a hurry, yet both seems to struggle finishing at the rim both shooting under 60% in the restricted area and Bazemore had a lack of control on the court before coming to ATL. Budenholzer and guys on his staff like Milwaukee favorite Darvin Ham were able to help Bazemore play with much more control, which drastically increased his FG% from both inside the arch and the three point line while in Atlanta, and I see the same thing happening for Sterling Brown under Bud.
The last person who benefits the most out of the Bud hiring is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and not for the reason you would think. In Giannis’ five NBA seasons he has dealt with the likes of Larry Drew and Jason Kidd and yet found himself to become one of the leagues best players. Regardless of the Budenholzer hiring Giannis is going to be incredible as always, but having the right coach means that throughout the season the Giannis will have less of a burden on his shoulder being able to rely on other guys to help eat up minutes during the regular season and help contribute to more wins.
(All stats via basketball-reference.com)
By: Michael Sawasky (@Sawask00)