Milwaukee Bucks: 3 overlooked things Mike Budenholzer deserves credit for

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Bryn Forbes, Mike Budenholzer
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JUNE 25 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks’ system has maximized bench players and led to solid production and development across the board

On the basketball court, Bucks Culture was equally as evident.

That the Bucks were on pace to win 70 games with a starting backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Wesley Matthews should tell you all you need to know about how Mike Budenholzer uses the talent at his disposal. Neither of the two went on to see the same success after moving on from the Bucks despite playing for reasonably talented basketball clubs.

Throughout the past three years, Budenholzer was able to squeeze quality minutes out of players like DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. One common denominator in these minutes is that the players in question have always played within themselves and let the game come to them.

Every fan remembers the stretch in 2018 when Wilson notched double-doubles left and right en route to holding opponents to 40.1% field goal shooting to finish the year. What about the time Budenholzer was confident enough in Sterling Brown to start him in place of an injured Malcolm Brogdon in the playoffs? Or the final-possession minutes that Antetokounmpo played against the Brooklyn Nets, where he ignited excellent defensive stops to get the crowd on its feet?

This is only to say that with Bucks culture comes a willingness to play within the system. Rookies like Jordan Nwora, Sam Merrill, and Mamadi Diakite have shown all year long their readiness to go to work and grind it out in what they called the “trenches” at the end of the Bucks bench. Despite playing only garbage time minutes, their presence was still no doubt an integral facet of the team’s success.

Just like the San Antonio Spurs teams of old for which Budenholzer served as video coordinator and eventually assistant coach, the Bucks have always known their roles and played within them. Though their passing is admittedly nowhere near as prolific, the accentuated team basketball approach is clear, as they routinely play for the man next to them and give up good shots for better ones.

It isn’t just playing for each other, but playing hard. The team’s vocal leaders including, Budenholzer himself, have always preached taking on the season day by day, quarter by quarter, and possession by possession and just getting better every day. P.J. Tucker, in his first few practices as a Milwaukee Buck, described the team as all business after watching everyone working on their own games in silence at the team’s training facility. The Bucks preached a similar approach heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals, where they ultimately won the title.