The Bucks have found their new leader agreeing to a contract with former Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer according to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Mike Budenholzer has reached an agreement to become the Milwaukee Bucks coach, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2018
Budenholzer emerged as the front runner for the Bucks vacancy alongside San Antonio Spurs Assistant Ettore Messina as the two finalists met with Bucks ownership in New York City. It was reported from the beginning that the Bucks were interested in Budenholzer first from the NY Post and it also appeared that there was mutual interest from the getco.
Moving on to what Budenholzer offers the Bucks immediately. Budenholzer is regarded as one of the more savvy minds in coaching today, most notably leading a star-less Atlanta Hawks in the 2014-15 campaign to the top seed in the Eastern Conference with 60 wins, eventually to get swept by LeBron James and the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Although the playoff exit, Budenholzer’s performance that season put his name on the map as one of the hot young coaches in the game, as his team executed a fluid offensive style that doesn’t feature much isolation, emphasizes ball movement, and most importantly gets open threes.
Budenholzer’s offensive schemes instantly fills a lot of the holes that the Bucks were lacking down the stretch and in the playoffs. Too often the Joe Prunty led offense was featuring: lack of fluency and difficult iso shots late in posessions. It was apparent that the system the Bucks were running was not getting the most out of the talented roster. Budenholzer’s offense should incorporate drive and kick situations that create open three-point attempts by using Giannis’ skill and athleticism. As Al Horford was the facilitator in that 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks team I can see Giannis developing into a similar facilitator and overall more team oriented style that gets the best shot. It may cause a decrease in points for the Greek Freak, but with an increase of assists could come an increase in wins.
It was reported by multiple media sources that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Mike Budenholzer met earlier today over breakfast. Although there has been no word from Giannis since the singing we can assume the Bucks wouldn’t hire anyone without the blessing of their All-Star forward.
It is absolutely critical that Budenholzer unlocks every bit of potential that Antetokounmpo has in him, but no one can do it alone. Antetokounmpo must have a reliable supporting cast for the Bucks to reach new heights in the Eastern Conference. There are some viable pieces to start for Budenholzer that showed signs of upside last season including: Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, Sterling Brown, and potentially Jabari Parker. With Budenholzer’s inclusive brand of basketball we will be able to tell rather quickly if the players are able to adapt in his unselfish style both physically and mentally.
On the defensive side of the ball Budenholzer developed a style that has lead him to 3 top 8 finishes in defensive rating in his tenure in Atlanta. Budenholzer focuses on getting proactive movement in the half-court which includes hedging and recovering. Budenholzer’s defensive principles rely on all five-players buying in to what Budenholzer teaches.
For Budenholzer to succeed in Milwaukee it will not be easy. It is going to require a complete overhaul of the offensive and defensive principles that have been leading the Bucks to mediocrity for the past decade or so. It most likely will also include a complete revamping the bench. But catch your breath… there are some intriguing potential outcomes. Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Brogdon, and (maybe) Parker have played minimally together since they have all been on the roster, and that’s a lot of talent. Could it be that Budenholzer is the magical key that unlocks all this talent that will eventually “Own The Future”, only time will tell of course. If I were a betting man (which I am sometimes) I would bet Budenholzer makes the Bucks into a contender for a 3-4 seed in the East with the possibility of winning 50 games in year one. It might take some time for the results to come full picture, but if the goal is to reach a Eastern Conference Finals, or heck an NBA Finals before Giannis’ contract is up after the 2020-21 season, I believe hiring Budenholzer was the right move.