The Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff is continuing to take shape with Adrian Griffin making three moves Friday morning. According to Eric Nehm of the Athletic, Griffin added Nate Mitchell and D.J Bakker, while retaining Josh Oppenheimer and Vin Baker.
The Bucks are adding Nate Mitchell and DJ Bakker to Adrian Griffin’s coaching staff for next season and retaining assistant coach Josh Oppenheimer, per a league source.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) June 9, 2023
Per a league source, the Bucks will also be retaining assistant coach Vin Baker next season. https://t.co/iomWNY5HAP— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) June 9, 2023
Oppenheimer is in his second stint with the Bucks after joining Larry Drew’s staff in 2013 and stayed for three seasons after Jason Kidd was hired. After spending some time with the Rockets, the G-League and a season with James Madison, Oppenheimer returned to the Bucks in time to be part of the championship team. The former Israeli Premiere League player was an assistant coach of Greece’s EuroBasket tournament team that featured two of the Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis and Thansis.
Baker first joined interim head coach Joe Prunty’s staff in 2018 as an assistant (so a reunion is in order) and then stayed on through Mike Budenholzer’s tenure.
The New Faces
Now let’s move in on the new coaches to the Bucks staff, starting with Mitchell. The native Canadian spent the last two seasons in Toronto working alongside Griffin, under now Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse. Prior to that, Mitchell spent three seasons (2018-2021) as an assistant coach under James Borrego in Charlotte. The 36-year-old assistant has been praised in the past for his player development, especially in Canada.
Mitchell has worked with the likes of Andrew Nembhard, R.J. Barrett and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Mitchell said to the Toronto Star back in July of 2022 that he is humbled by working with those guys.
“It’s humbling but at the same time, it’s that I’ve been placed here to help guys like that,” Mitchell said. “It’s no different from the amount of kids playing Division 1 basketball or U Sports who didn’t get a chance to play (pro).
“I was in the community regardless and I was lucky enough to touch them. Sometimes you touch one and they’re so connected, that you get to touch multiples.”
Mitchell has been able to connect with a lot of international players as well, since he also worked in Basketball without Borders. It’s vital to have that background with how many international players are entering and thriving in the Association. Plus, it also helps that the Bucks best player is from outside the US, so Mitchell should be able to connect with Giannis and the rest of the team.
Bakker has been working the NBA for a decade for several different teams including the Chicago Bulls video room, an advanced scout for the Orlando Magic and a development coach for the Dallas Mavericks. In those 10 years, Bakker has only been a coach for the last five seasons. It started in 2018 as a player development coach under Dwayne Casey and the Detroit Pistons, with the last two of those years as an assistant coach. While also serving in that role, Bakker was the head coach for the Pistons G-League team, the Motor City Cruise. Bakker will be a good piece to have for Griffin’s staff, as he can work and connect more closely with the young players in the NBA and the G-League.
I think all of these moves are sound by Griffin, but we will see how it all plays out was the ball hits the hardwood. We here at Brew Hoop will keep you updated if any other staff or roster changes come.