Why Mike Budenholzer Wins Coach of the Year
In a generation of professional basketball highlighted by “superteams” with multiple superstars, there have been less talented teams with surprisingly good records this season. One of these teams is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are sitting at a very comfortable 2nd place in the Eastern Conference (20-9), only trailing the Kawhi Leonard led Toronto Raptors. Don’t get me wrong, the Greek Freak has had an outstanding season (26.8 PPG, 6.0 APG, 13.1 RPG, 29.0 PER), but a large portion of the Bucks’ success needs to be credited to their coach. Milwaukee has managed a 113.7 Offensive Rating (3rd in the NBA), a 105.1 Defensive Rating (5th in the NBA), and 49.9 Rebounds per Game (1st in the NBA). These are significant statistics for analyzing a team’s overall performance as opposed to individual performance.
One prominent change that Budenholzer has implemented in this team’s system is a tendency to rely heavily on the 3-ball. The Bucks have shot an eye-catching 14 3-pointers per game, which leads teams like the Warriors and Rockets who are known to rely heavily on their stellar 3-point shooters. This style has helped Milwaukee get other talented players more involved in the offense such as Kris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and others.
Although 3s have been a crucial part of the Bucks’ game plan, the team has struggled with their deep shots in the month of December (only 32.7% which ranks 25th in the league). Despite this struggle, which can be expected for a small portion of the season, the Bucks have weathered the storm and maintained the 2 seed in the East. In my opinion, the ability of a team to find a way to win close games is an indication of a well-coached team in any professional sport. This is evidenced by the Bucks’ last win, a 107-104 victory against the Pistons in they found ways to score 64 points in the paint (versus just 36 from Detroit). The ability of this team to DESTORY Detroit in the paint despite having relied so heavily on the 3-ball throughout the year shows how Mike Budenholzer has developed the Bucks into a versatile team that can find other ways to win despite a cold spell from the 3. Mike Budenholzer will win Coach of the Year if the Bucks can finish the season off with a top 3 position in the Eastern Conference, which I believe to be a very achievable goal for this squad.