Milwaukee Bucks: Jon Horst making a strong case for Executive of the Year

MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 22: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 22: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Jon Horst has made sound choices regarding free agency, trades and improving the overall culture since becoming Milwaukee Bucks general manager. Is he now the leading candidate for the NBA’s Executive of the Year award?

It’s always fun to look back and see how far the Milwaukee Bucks have come. The John Hammond years weren’t all bad; the Bucks were just victim to aimless coaching with no real sense of accountability nor direction.

There were brief playoff appearances, but success was limited to the first round. It is safe to say the Milwaukee Bucks are legitimate contenders this season and, without any upsets, they should advance deep into the playoffs.

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When Hammond and the Bucks parted ways in the summer of 2017, a new era of basketball was brought to Milwaukee.

General manager of the Bucks, Jon Horst, has transformed Milwaukee’s brand of basketball into one that even the most casual of fans can enjoy. Gone are the days of bad basketball and a disinterested fanbase.

Horst has brought in a competent coaching staff in Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks’ compadres; a stark difference to years past.

Furthermore, Horst has also supplied his star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, with a cast of athletic slashers and dead-eye three point shooters.

Adding shooting around Antetokounmpo is paramount. This spaces the floor, and also allows him to bully his way inside the paint while his teammates await the collapsing defender to capitalize on a kick out three-point shot. This formula has worked time and again for the Milwaukee Bucks; and teams have seldom caught on.

In the same breath, the Bucks are averaging more points per game than they did last season, at 116.9 to 106.5 points per game, leading to a current record of 48-14 and a clinched playoff spot.

As one might expect, Horst has gotten noticeably more comfortable in his role as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. He brought in a host of free agents in 2018, including Pat Connaughton, Ersan Ilyasova, and Brook Lopez.. These players have all made valuable contributions that have propelled the Bucks to the forefront of the NBA.

In the same breath, Lopez appears to be the biggest steal in free agency. Somehow, Lopez fell through the cracks after a lackluster season in Los Angeles, where he was kept from displaying his full potential that fans were accustomed to seeing in Brooklyn. Luckily, Horst was able to swoop in and sign the big man.

Furthermore, during the current 2018-19 season, Horst has made a litany of trades to ensure that the Milwaukee Bucks equip Antetokounmpo with all the right tools to succeed.

Trading for George Hill and Nikola Mirotic were pieces of managerial art in themselves. Sending Matthew Dellavedova back to Cleveland alongside John Henson for a then-disenfranchised Hill has given Milwaukee a strong back up to Eric Bledsoe.

More recently, Horst was able to flip Thon Maker and Jason Smith for Nikola Mirotic. Aside from Tobias Harris’ move to Philadelphia, the Mirotic deal could be prove to be one of the most beneficial moves made before the trade deadline.

Before Nikola even touched the floor, Milwaukee Bucks fans knew what they were getting: size, defense, and three-point shooting. Music to Coach Bud’s ears.

Without the nerve to pull the trigger on these trades, the Milwaukee Bucks could be in a drastically different situation.

Over the past week, Horst’s stellar work has continued. Extending Eric Bledsoe on a four-year, $70 million dollar contract, and picking up veteran and former champion, Pau Gasol, on a buy-out deal, have only further helped the case for Horst to win Executive of the Year. These are moves to ensure the present, and future, success of the Bucks.

What Jon Horst has done with the Bucks is simply remarkable. From a routinely poor seeding in the playoffs, to being the most successful and surprising team in the NBA; Horst has changed the Milwaukee Bucks in the best way possible.

Horst should be the clear cut favorite to win Executive of the Year. He has made decisions in free agency and through trades that have positively affected the Milwaukee Bucks. Horst has revamped the basketball culture in Milwaukee, and fans have caught on.

The Bucks are the hottest ticket in the Eastern Conference, and Horst is a large part of the reason why.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Grades for Eric Bledsoe’s four-year, $70 million extension. dark

Should the Bucks’ success continue, the Executive of the Year award should be Horst’s to lose.