Silliness of the delayed, interminably long award show aside, what a treat it must be for Mike Budenholzer to take home his second coach of the year award in his short six-year tenure as a head coach in the league. Shout out to Peter Feigin for jumping up like a schoolboy after it was announced. Yes, the ending certainly wasn’t what he hoped, but leading a second team to 60 wins is a darn impressive feat. More importantly, he wiped away any lingering stench from Jason Kidd and Sean Sweeney’s time in Milwaukee. Although Sweeney did get the last laugh with those two Suns wins...
Regardless, Blue Square Bud’s impact was clear from the outset. He and his assistant coaches started their tenure devising the perfect system to try and fit around Giannis, both offensively and defensively. Their five-out style worked like gangbusters almost all year, right up until it ran into the defensive buzzsaw in Toronto. Other than that, no team showed any real ability to slow down a top-five offense in the league. He helped unlock Giannis defensively too, devising a system that complemented Brook Lopez’s slow-footed, but quite intelligent, nature, but allowed their ace in the hole to wreak havoc elsewhere. It led to two first team All-Defense nods for Giannis and Eric Bledsoe too.
Defense seemed to be his obsession all year. He preached on it when Milwaukee was prone to try and outscore opponents. He led them to one of the most spectacular years we could’ve imagined, finally unlocking all the defensive potential Kidd and company squandered for years in their Matrix scheme. “What if we...TOOK AWAY EVERYTHING.” Turns out that gambit didn’t work, and Bud smartly chose to take away shots at the rim while strategically picking which opposing gunners could get some space to shoot from deep.
It paid off. Milwaukee finally has a difference-maker as a coach, someone who I trust to tinker with his solid foundation this year and hopefully lead this team to the promised land come June 2020. If we’re unsatisfied with how the year ended, imagine how Bud probably feels, stewing on those four losses all offseason. Let’s hope it’s fuel for next year’s fire.