Milwaukee Bucks: 3 reasons for optimism after passing one-month mark

Jan 24, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 24, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports) /
2 of 3
Dec 18, 2020: Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2020: Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Milwaukee Bucks: 3 reasons for optimism – Mike Budenholzer’s willingness to experiment

Following two consecutive postseason fallouts, many called for the Bucks to fire Budenholzer at the conclusion of last season. The team opted to retain him for a third season, and he entered this year with arguably the hottest seat among current head coaches. Budenholzer’s most prominent flaw has been his naive nature to remain true to his principles, particularly in a postseason setting when adjustments become pivotal.

In the first 16 games of this season, the two-time Coach of the Year winner has seemingly turned a new leaf, even if he has not abandoned his ways entirely. One of the more apparent changes has been the distribution of minutes to his top players.

The coach was openly criticized in the postseason for not giving his starters more minutes, and he has been giving them more leeway in the early going this year. This will be pivotal down the road and into the playoffs, and hopefully, Bud continues displaying this newfound change of heart.

He has also shown some flexibility on the defensive side of things, one particular aspect being when the team chooses to switch or not. Budenholzer has typically been against switching in his coaching tenure, but he has allowed them to do so periodically this season. One example came in their recent game against the Utah Jazz, where the Bucks were getting lit up from deep in the first half.

Milwaukee came out in the third quarter with a new defensive strategy that revolved around switching, and although it proved futile, it was welcoming to see the choice try new things. As detailed by The Athletic’s Eric Nehm ($$), the players embraced the situation and hope that these mid-game adjustments will be a common theme moving forward.

Another thing is Budenholzer’s readiness to alter the rotation on any given night. With a handful of new additions this offseason, Budenholzer was tasked with piecing together the perfect puzzle for this team, and he has gone deep into his bench to do so. For reference, the coach had been giving Thanasis Antetokounmpo extended minutes in the early going this season but substituted his minutes entirely out of the blue for Torrey Craig in the team’s latest contest.

With such a well-rounded roster, Budenholzer has the pleasure to pick and choose who receives minutes, as evidenced by Craig’s trial run. If the Bucks see any postseason success later in the year, Budenholzer’s coaching in every aspect will be a significant factor in it. Although he has not been perfect by any stretch, there is justifiable reasoning to be somewhat optimistic about Budenholzer’s newfound mindset.