No. 3 – Mike Budenholzer
Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
In the first few weeks of the Adrian Griffin regime, some fans went as far as calling for the former head coach to get his post back. It wasn’t without reason; many had grown frustrated with Griffin’s ostensibly flawed schemes that simply looked incompatible with a roster like Milwaukee’s.
Budenholzer had a rather unceremonious exit from the team he coached to an NBA championship in 2021, even though it was something that was a no-brainer at the time. The Bucks had come off an embarrassing first-round exit to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat, and questions about his coaching skill had been swirling for weeks on social media.
What if he spent the season developing MarJon Beauchamp instead of playing slow vets to stack meaningless wins? What if he implemented a more structured and disciplined offense more than just pick and roll and isolation? What if he used his timeouts when he had them, or what if he used Wes Matthews more instead of taking him out in the fourth quarter and overtime? What if he adjusted to the Heat shooters and stopped overhelping and going under screens?
But there’s a lot of good to look back on from his tenure as head coach in Milwaukee.
For one thing, there’s no denying he brought a winning culture to the Bucks.
He was also instrumental in putting a scheme around Giannis Antetokounmpo that maximized his talents enough to net him an MVP. Antetokounmpo was already a star when Budenholzer was hired, but he took his game to another level under Budenholzer’s guidance. Antetokounmpo won two MVP awards during Budenholzer’s tenure.
Bud’s flaws are what they are, but ultimately, he was a respected leader known for his ability to get the most out of his players and for creating a positive team culture.
And with a new coaching vacancy on the Bucks bench, along with signs of aging in Budenholzer’s coaching, perhaps assistant coaching is something he would be open to.