Milwaukee Bucks: Why Jon Horst needs thought for Executive of the Year

Sept 20, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)
Sept 20, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports) /

Following another disappointing debacle in last year’s NBA Playoffs, it was clear that the Milwaukee Bucks needed to shake things up.

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the team at that point, general manager Jon Horst certainly had his hands full in trying to make moves. Chaos ensued over the next several weeks as Horst persistently, perhaps too much in one particular instance with the Sacramento Kings, worked to reshape this roster to boost Milwaukee’s title chances.

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After an eventful regular season, the Bucks finished third overall in the Eastern Conference standings with a 46-26 record. While that was a step backward compared to the regular season success that they saw in the previous two seasons, it was clear that this group was better prepared for postseason success.

Given how impactful these roster moves have turned out to be, Horst should find himself in the running yet again for this year’s Executive of the Year award.

General manager Jon Horst made impactful moves for the Milwaukee Bucks throughout this year.

Horst kicked off the offseason by trading a massive stash of assets consisting of Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three future first round picks, and two future pick swaps for Jrue Holiday. Many deemed the move as an act of desperation and a massive overpay, but it with the Bucks certainly needing an upgrade in the backcourt, Holiday seemed like the ideal fit.

That quickly proved true as the guard went on to have the most efficient regular season of his career by shooting 50.3 percent from the floor and 39.2 percent from long range. Not only has Holiday given the Bucks a much-needed spark with his capabilities on the offensive end, but he has been an enforcer on the defensive end with his relentless efforts against some of the league’s best defenders nightly.

Given how impactful the guard has been for the team this season, it was a no-brainer when they inked him to a four-year contract extension. Another stellar move made by Horst, the Bucks now have their point guard of the future secured long term without having to endure the headache of free agency.

Shortly after the move for Holiday came the signings of Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis through free agency, two players that many overlooked. However, they have each proven to be prominent players in Milwaukee’s rotation this season while both playing on bargain contracts.

On the books for $2.3 million this year, Forbes has been a present surprise this season by shooting a career-high 45.2 percent from 3-point territory. The sharpshooting guard certainly made Horst look good in Milwaukee’s Game 4 victory over the Miami Heat by scoring 22 points off the bench while burying seven triples. Shooting like that has been absent in each of the Bucks’ last two playoff collapses and Forbes has helped fill that void drastically.

The same goes for big man Bobby Portis, who shot a career-best 47.1 percent from behind the arc on the season. Portis turned down much more lucrative deals with other teams to sign a lesser two-year contract with Milwaukee in the offseason with hopes of winning and his contributions have undoubtedly helped them reach this point. Leading the second unit in scoring at 11.4 points per game, Portis has helped in that regard to this point.

Of course, the biggest move of the offseason for the Bucks was re-signing two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to a five-year supermax extension worth a record $228 million. Electing not to enter free agency after the 2020-21 season, Antetokounmpo was clearly pleased with the slew of moves made by Horst and co. prior to making his own decision for his future.

Horst kept his foot on the gas throughout the regular season by pulling off a trade for P.J. Tucker before the trade deadline.

Tucker had been one of the most coveted targets on the market before being acquired by the Bucks, and he has been a natural fit with this new group by providing some tenacious defense in the second unit. In a more under-the-radar move, the Bucks filled their backup point guard vacancy by signing veteran free agent Jeff Teague. Although his minutes have been scattered since the move, having him on this roster as a backup has been a welcoming addition.

The biggest blemish added to Horst’s resume since the end of last season was the botched deal with the Sacramento Kings. Shortly after news broke that they had acquired Holiday, news flooded in that the Bucks were staying aggressive by adding Bogdan Bogdanovic through sign-and-trade with the Kings. However, that deal soon fell through, and the Bucks were forced to cough up a 2022 second round draft pick for discussing the deal before such an action was legal.

While Bogdanovic himself stated in an interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick that he was shocked to see the reported trade as he never agreed to the terms. It remains unknown who to point the finger at exactly in this compelling debacle, but it is all history now.

All in all, the new additions to this roster that did go through have helped create a formidable Milwaukee squad. This group is showing that they deserve to be in the conversation among the most prominent contenders and Horst deserves some credit for piecing it all together. However, winning the award will be a tall task for Horst, as he faces stiff competition in the running.

Sean Marks of the Brooklyn Nets is a prominent name in the discussion after he shocked the NBA landscape by pulling off a blockbuster trade for the 2017-18 MVP James Harden in January.  The Phoenix Suns also ended their lengthy playoff drought this season thanks to some impressive moves from general manager James Jones. Not only did Jones trade for future Hall of Famer and 11-time All-Star Chris Paul in the offseason, but he made a slew of other moves that included signing Jae Crowder and orchestrating a trade with the Bucks for Torrey Craig.

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Yet, two years after winning Executive of the Year for the first time, Horst should find himself somewhere in the running yet again.