The annual Milwaukee Bucks media day unfurled pretty much as you’d expect, with platitudes aplenty and lots of talk about the open space Bud’s arrival heralds. Of course, hidden within the typical chatter is usually a few hi-jinx and tidbits to parse out, so let’s dive into some of the takeaways from the event.
- Setting the tone for today’s proceedings, ownership talked glowingly about the addition of Mike Budenholzer. They viewed him as their biggest talent infusion from the offseason, a sentiment echoed all the way down the pecking order today.
- In what may’ve been a more veiled shot at their prior coaching staff, Edens also talked in particular about Bud’s system-based approach. He even directly said, “The one obvious difference around the team is Bud has a system.” That didn’t just mean his actual basketball system, but he specifically pointed out how organizationally he has defined roles for everyone. That extended to the players, coaching staff, etc.
- Edens and Lasry didn’t mince words about their impression of the team, with both stating there’s no reason to think they shouldn’t be in that top 1-4 range in the East if they’re able to stay healthy. Lasry even went so far as to say you hope to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. The specter of the franchise’s first round failures felt the most omnipresent when discussing expectations for this year.
- A discussion of the governorship changing hands from Wes Edens to Marc Lasry after this season was mostly downplayed. They didn’t anticipate any changes. Edens said, “The way that we run the team now is a collaboration, I don’t think there will be a material change at all.”
- Wes Edens also talked about how they thought they were close to 10K season ticket sales.
- In discussing the upgraded facilities, Marc Lasry specifically recounted going into the Cousins center and seeing buckets on the court catching water because it had rained recently. In turn, that prevented the Bucks from practicing. Not only is that hilarious insight into how far the franchise has come, but it also gets my conspiracy meter going when thinking back to Khris Middleton tearing his hamstring slipping on some water.
- Once more, Jon Horst doubled down on Bud’s arrival, even stating that, “With Bud and Giannis, you have a path.” That path means they can select a style of play, particularly one coming from a coach who has a track record of success. Considering Horst was ultimately the one who ousted Kidd last season, it appears there was plenty of alignment regarding ownership and Horst’s hope for what Bud would provide the team going forward.
- Bud and Horst both made a conscious effort to demonstrate how they take a piecemeal approach to improvement. Eschewing the opportunity to set specific expectations (although ownership seemed to have no trouble laying down what they thought was possible) Bud focused on the same sort of improvement espoused by his coaching staff: day-by-day.
Horst on big expectations: "I think we focus on the day to day, I think we will accomplish the goals of last year and sustain success."— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) September 24, 2018
Budenholzer: "I'm boderline obsessive with what we do each day, in terms of championships, isn't that what every team wants?"
- Bud also got asked by a few players specifically. On Brook, he talked plenty about his ability to score at all levels, including spacing the floor, as well as being able to grapple with other big opponents who have size down low. On Bledsoe, he said, “What excites me the most about Eric is his ability to impact the game defensively.” Certainly Bledsoe’s defensive effort waxed and waned throughout last season, so Bud committing to maximizing that part of his skillset seems like a promising point of emphasis.
- While Bud unexpectedly remained cagey about the specifics of his scheme, he first discussed transition defense as a key selling point. Other elements included defense without fouling and perhaps fittingly, defensive rebounding was one of the final points of his speech given Milwaukee’s woes the past few years.
- Bud had highlighted wanting players to be able to move with and without the ball. Which is something Bucks fans haven’t seen in a very long time.
- Sterling Brown led off the proceedings with a pretty standard Q&A that included a brief mention of his current legal situation. With the ongoing lawsuit, it’s not surprising that he couldn’t talk much about it beyond saying he has the full support of the organization.
- Turns out he also had to pony up after the typical rookie hazing last year.
Brown: "after three details i was able to get the popcorn smell out of my car. It gives me a good feeling but I'm glad not to be a rookie."— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) September 24, 2018
- Perhaps the biggest revelation was that Giannis was skipping his yearly tradition of telling dad jokes on Media day. RIP to standup Giannis.
Giannis on shoe: "I don't know if I can talk about too much, they are almost done though."— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) September 24, 2018
Bledsoe was also trying to get Giannis to tell a joke as they were leaving but Giannis didn't budge.
- Eric Bledsoe specifically mentioned learning how to play off the ball, something Bud said during his conference too. Given his limitations as an off-ball shooter, it’s intriguing to see them pushing that as a sense of emphasis knowing that the Bucks have two primary wing creators. Bledsoe also talked about the glut of actions installed by Bud, who seems to be pushing Milwaukee’s stars to trust that they should give the ball up and work within the offense to trust they’ll get open looks when their teammates return the favor.
- In a fashion update, it looks like Bledsoe may be rocking a headband this year? Time will tell if it sticks once the season tips off.
- Giannis continued the “grass is greener” sentiment of today’s sessions, talked effusively about the ample open space that Bud’s system will help create for him. Pace, as is required, was mentioned plenty of times, but he also discussed playing within the rhythm of the offense and not going one-on-five every time. That seemed to be a common thread for Giannis, and one Bucks fans should be happy to hear after the oft-stagnant offenses of year’s past.
- No rest for the weary, even when Giannis was getting ready to meet one of his basketball idols.
Giannis says he was 3 hours early to work out with Kobe. Landed at 9 a.m. and was there at 11 a.m. for what was scheduled to be a 2 p.m. workout. Wanted to show him he wasn't there to mess around. Wanted to show Kobe "I'm here to get better, simple as that."— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) September 24, 2018
- Henson was the media day MVP. He had a (I think) well-mannered back-and-forth with Racine Journal Times reporter Gery Woelfel, who joshed with Henson about his free throw woes. Henson responded in-kind with the zinger that Woelfel, “Has a 50% hit rate on his news.” Ouch.
- Khris Middleton didn’t shy away from the team’s failures and hopefulness for shedding said demons.
Khris on the team and the next step: "I'm excited with the team we have and we got the pieces to do it we just have to go out and do it."— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) September 24, 2018
on expectations: "we still want 50 wins but we looked like fools in the past."
- As someone who was ran ragged with Atlassian minutes loads under Jason Kidd, it sounds like Khris Middleton appreciates Bud’s approach to handling player’s bodies.
Delly on Bud: "he has a track record so i'm excited."— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) September 24, 2018
Khris: "They (coaching staff) look out for us and make sure we take care of our bodies."
- Overall, players just seemed to echo the GM and ownership in that things have been and will be much better with Budenholzer whether it’s updated tactics, modernizing the offense or having the team get out and run.
- Thon Maker and Tyler Zeller were the only players that didn’t make an appearance.