I guess being the Yoda to Giannis’ Luke Skywalker was a smart professional choice by Sean Sweeney. Following yesterday’s report that Mike Budenholzer would be bringing along five of his assistants - including shooting coach savant Ben Sullivan - it appears one familiar face will be staying according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Per source, Mike Budenholzer's Bucks coaching staff will include five members of his Atlanta staff — Darvin Ham, Taylor Jenkins, Ben Sullivan, Patrick St. Andrews and Charles Lee — as well as Sean Sweeney, who has been on the Bucks' coaching staff since 2014. Story coming.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) June 7, 2018
Greg covered some of what’s to be expected from the Atlanta coaches in his post yesterday, but the main concern of Bucks fans will likely be what Sweeney’s role is in this new paradigm. Darvin Ham will likely remain lead assistant, after ascending to that role following Kenny Atkinson’s departure. Sweeney was widely known as the architect of the crumbling foundation that was Milwaukee’s defense these last few years. More importantly, he also palled around with Giannis wherever he seemed to go, even trekking over to Greece with him in the offseason.
This will undoubtedly anger fans considering the failings of Milwaukee’s defense these last few years, but at this point we still have no idea how Sweeney will slot in. If Budenholzer is relying on him for defensive advice, I’d much prefer he plug his ears and swivel his head toward one of his Atlanta assistants. If Sweeney is still exclusively working with Giannis, it would seem like a lost opportunity to allow a fresh voice with novel approaches to player development to mold the still quite moldable Antetokounmpo. Not to mention the fact they likely see basketball in a different way than Giannis’ has perceived it through the former coaching staff’s eyes these past few years.
Sweeney is known as a voracious worker though, an admirable trait that most coaches seem to value quite highly. Just a few short years ago he was seen as an assistant on the rise before his defensive scheme was overexposed and never really changed shape. Perhaps this is a chance for him to improve his skills as well under the tutelage of a new voice. We’ll have to wait until practices start opening up again to see how Sweeney plays into all of this, but I’m of the opinion Coach Bud isn’t planning on letting one holdover dictate much of anything. The only concerning thing would be if this is a move solely to placate Giannis, who admittedly deserves special treatment, but really shouldn’t have say over the coaching personnel on hand. For now, let’s hope Bud has his other guys sink their teeth into Giannis rather than allowing him to shuttle off with Sweeney.
UPDATE: Milwaukee made the coaching hires official as of this afternoon.