As Giannis Antetokounmpo has continued to grow and mature over the last couple of years, the hope amongst Bucks fans around the league has reached an all-time high. The highlight reel plays and super freak athletics keep Giannis and the Bucks in league-wide talks about Eastern conference contention along with the “could this be the year” takes.
Despite the noticeable improvements by all the young players along with their unmatchable length from point guard all the way down to the center. Each time they played a game in the playoffs there was one thing that always shined past the talent, Immaturity and poor coaching schemes. When things got tough, it would end up being Giannis just trying to attack the rim the best he could to carry the offensive load with little ball movement.
Enter Mike Budenholzer, The Bucks newly hired head coach. Coach Bud, a disciple of Popovich made a name for himself when he left the Spurs coaching bench and took over the Atlanta Hawks. Despite a slow first year in Atlanta finishing with a record of 38-44, you could see what he was trying to do and notice a system was being put in place. That became clearly evident the next season when the team turned around and finished with a 60-22 record which netted them the 1st seed in the east. Despite Budenholzer proving he was a beyond competent coach in the NBA, over the next couple years the Hawks front office decided to go in the rebuilding direction, whether it be in trades or just letting the players walk it became evident the Hawks brass wanted to tank and Bud didn’t want to be a part of it.
In the off-season, the Bucks and Budenholzer agreed to a 4-year deal giving him plenty of time to build a relationship with his players and build a winning culture in Milwaukee. Bucks general manager Jon Horst said in a statement after the hiring “Mike has played a key role in building successful teams throughout his career. He's widely respected and has shown a special ability to teach and develop players. His leadership, basketball intellect, championship-level experience and communication skills make him the right fit to take our team to the next level."
Of course, it’s only preseason but there have already been flashes that show Budenholzer’s system will be a treat for Bucks fans this season. The offensive sets and plays that have been shown use ball movement and off-ball movement like the Bucks have never seen before. Id look for players other than Giannis to really make a name for themselves this season, such as sharpshooter Khris Middleton and possibly even Tony Snell who really struggled to establish himself as a player in the league this far.
Heres a few clips that show exactly how much of an advantage coach Bud brings to the Bucks and a couple key players.
This play here was set up to try and get Middleton a good look at an open 3, though it may just look like a bunch of clustered movement it all has a reason and is much different than plain iso looks you’d see much more of from the Bucks last year.
Though this isnt the most put together play, it goes to show what setting up multiple looks at 3s for your shooters can do. Defense has to respect the ability and close out immediately, allowing Middleton to attack the basket.
Lastly for Middleton, Bucks use nothing to intricate here just a early clock pin-down screen that gets a great shooter an open look.
It may not be this year that you see every single benefit of having a coach with a legit basketball mind, But look for the Bucks young core to grow into a legit team in the years to come under the tutelage of Mike Budenholzer.