What a great season the Milwaukee Bucks have had. It wasn’t an easy task to become the best team within 3 months. Working together as a franchise and making great decisions brought them to the top. The Bucks improvement started when their GM (General Manager) Jon Horst hired Mike Budenholzer as their new head coach.
The Bucks’ previous coach Jason Kidd was terrible. Kidd would usually rely on drives by his players and not shooting at all, ranking them 20th in overall offensive rating. He was a great player in the nineties but as a coach he is not at the same level. They also ranked 27th in three-pointers (8.8 per game) in 2017/18 season. Last season wasn’t a good one, but hiring Budenholzer in the postseason gave the Bucks hope. Mid-way through the regular season people were anticipating that he was going to get Coach of the Year because the Bucks are the first and only team to reach 60 wins.
Budenholzer is a great coach but he couldn’t do it all by himself. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton play huge roles for the team. Antetokounmpo being the MVP he is, averaged 27.7 points per game and 12.5 rebounds which is impressive for a forward. Khris who is unstoppable from the mid-range, averaged 18.3 point and 6 rebounds. Giannis can do anything you ask him to except maybe shoot the three ball, but he has drastically improved each month. In October, he was shooting 6.3 percent from the 3 point line, four months later he went all the way up to 45.5 percent. Middleton is an unstoppable force from the mid-range, and is 6’8 and 222 lbs making it easier for him to post up in the paint to quickly turn around and score like Kobe back in 2000’s. Khris was 45 percent from the field this regular season but he is just warming up for next year. These two are definitely a great duo.
While most of the Bucks’ 2018/19 roster was similar to the previous years, Budenholzer acquired Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova equipping the Bucks with guys who can defend with their length and also shoot the three. This is a big threat to opposing teams that have shorter players who can’t defend taller ones.
Budenholzer didn’t just become a great coach, most of his knowledge about coaching came from Gregg Popovich, coach of the Spurs. In the span of seven years he learned a lot from Popovich before signing as new head coach for the Hawks in 2013. It seems like Budenholzer will be the next greatest coach if he can prove that he is able to consistently provide great coaching with results.
Shooting threes and dunking isn’t the only thing that got the Bucks to the top. Defense played a huge role in their success. Having lots of big guys was important to Budenholzer and he made sure he was going to take an advantage of that. Also having the best two-way point guard Eric Bledsoe and the Greek Freak make it tough for their opponent to score. Averaging 7.5 steals and 6 blocks a game may not sound like a lot but the Bucks can clamp up anyone on the court forcing opponents to take inefficient shots.
The Bucks are currently ranked 1st in the Eastern Conference and 1st overall on the power rankings this regular season. Bucks swept Blake Griffin and the Pistons in the first round of playoffs and easily beat the Celtics 4-1. They are looking forward for their next opponent with hunger for win.
Image credits : Keith Allison