Milwaukee Bucks: The implications of Ben Sullivan leaving coaching staff

May 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)
May 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) /

While most fans have been focused on which free agents their team is adding or subtracting, the Milwaukee Bucks have lost an assistant coach.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, assistant coach Ben Sullivan is joining the Boston Celtics’ new head coach Ime Udoka’s staff. Sullivan has been with the Bucks since 2018 but has been on Mike Budenholzer’s staff since his time with the Atlanta Hawks in 2014. He began his basketball career as a video intern with the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 after receiving a call from Udoka.

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Sullivan is best known as the Bucks’ shooting coach. He specifically spent a lot of time with Giannis Antetokounmpo to help develop his jump shot and grow his offensive game in recent years. In an interview with, Antetokounmpo said of Sullivan, “he’s not just a shooting coach. We work on my post-game. We work on my ball skills. Just becoming a better overall player.”

While there are obviously still some holes in Antetokoumpo’s shooting ability, Sullivan was a big believer in the work he was putting in with the two-time MVP.

"“I like the form. I like the structure,” Sullivan said in an interview with Business Insider. “I like what we have in place. It’s just gonna be a little bit more time, just grooving it out, year after year, repetition and hard work.”"

Of course, he didn’t only help Antetokounmpo, as he was Budenholzer’s right-hand man as well.

"“(Sullivan’s) got a good way of helping players take progressive steps in their games,” Budenholzer said. “A lot of times, if we have somebody where we’re spending extra time on shooting, he gets tasked with the majority of that.”"

How does losing Ben Sullivan impact the Milwaukee Bucks’ coaching staff?

It’s never ideal to lose an assistant coach, especially one with such a good relationship with Antetokounmpo, but it does create an opportunity to bring in some fresh perspective with an outside hire or simply promote a deserving candidate from within.

The Bucks were fortunate to keep head coaching candidates Darvin Ham and Charles Lee after another round of coaching hires were made, but neither have the reputation as a “shot doctor” like Sullivan does.

It would have been nice to see Sullivan get to work with a player like Semi Ojeleye, who has shown improvement in his jump shot over the last two seasons, or Sandro Mamukelashvili, a player with a nice shooting stroke but hasn’t fully seen the results in his 3-point percentages.

The Bucks do technically still have another shooting coach on staff that fans may remember. Prior to the beginning of last season, the Bucks brought back Josh Oppenheimer to their coaching staff. He was most notable for being the “shot doctor” early in Giannis’ career (along with Khris Middleton).

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not Oppenheimer will take on more of the responsibilities that Sullivan had in regards to player development, but he was a skill development coach under former Bucks head coach Jason Kidd.

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There’s always uncertainty when a team loses a coach, but fans should expect Budenholzer to find a more than suitable replacement. In the meantime, congratulations to Sullivan on his new job and we wish him the best!