Milwaukee Bucks: Mike Budenholzer’s winning pace in league history

(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) /

After an outstanding start to his Milwaukee Bucks tenure, where does Mike Budenholzer’s winning pace rank in wider NBA history?

Considering where the Milwaukee Bucks were when he took charge in the summer of 2018, Mike Budenholzer’s first two years in Wisconsin couldn’t have turned out much better than they have.

It goes without saying that a Conference Finals win over the Raptors would certainly have been preferable to that series’ actual outcome, but a 60-win season in 2018-19, followed up by 53 wins with 17 games remaining when the current campaign was put on hold, still makes for a pretty dazzling return.

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As I explored back in early April, that fast start has already left Budenholzer rapidly climbing the ranks of all-time Bucks coaches. Coach Bud is currently the franchise leader in terms of winning percentage, and is already ranked seventh out of the franchise’s 16 coaches in terms of total wins.

How does Budenholzer’s entire head coaching record fare when placed in an all-time context, though?

In terms of awards, Budenholzer is very close to the pinnacle, needing just one more Coach of the Year win to tie Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, and Don Nelson for most all-time with three wins.

Measuring his all-time progress in terms of wins also delivers an impressive picture for Budenholzer, particularly as he’s still in the relatively early stages of his coaching career.

In his seventh year as a head coach, having spent five seasons in Atlanta before joining the Bucks, Budenholzer has amassed 326 regular season wins, and a .585 winning percentage.

That winning percentage has Budenholzer ranked 36th all-time among all coaches, and sixth among active coaches. In terms of total wins, Budenholzer ranks 59th overall, and 13th among active coaches.

What’s striking in looking at how Budenholzer’s total wins compare to those who rank above him is just how quickly he’s amassed so many victories. Of the 58 coaches ahead of Budenholzer in terms of total wins, only Steve Kerr, who is in his sixth season, has had fewer years of experience than Milwaukee’s current head coach.

As things stand, only three coaches have cracked the top-50 on fewer than 10 years of experience, yet with only 27 wins separating Coach Bud from moving into that company, it’s just a matter of time before he adds to that grouping.

Of course, Budenholzer has a long, long way to go if he was ever to even come close to the coach who holds the record for most wins all-time in both Bucks and league history. Don Nelson tops all coaches with 1,335 career regular season wins over 31 years.

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If Bud’s career was to last that long, he’d have coached continuously from now through to the age of 74. That is almost certainly not the most likely scenario, but on his current pace, there’s no doubting that the Bucks have one of the NBA’s very best current coaches, and a coach who could cement his status as an all-time great before all is said and done.