Would Doc Rivers be a better coach for Milwaukee than Adrian Griffin? Should Milwaukee move to Doc Rivers as the new Head Coach?
Doc Rivers is an accomplished NBA coach. He played professionally in the league, playing in 864 career games. He played for Atlanta, the Clippers, the Knicks, and the Spurs, and over his 13-year playing career averaged close to 11 points a game (10.9). He is the definition of an NBA player’s coach. (See below for what Giannis wanted in his coach.)
He had a wonderful playing career. He also has done very well for himself as an NBA Head Coach.
Rivers was awarded an NBA coaching award title; he was also awarded the “15 Greatest Coaches in NBA history”. He won an NBA championship as the Coach of the Boston Celtics in the 2007-2008 season. He made another NBA finals with the Celtics two years later. The Celtics lost that year to the LA Lakers.
So if he was out there and available to hire, why didn’t Milwaukee go with Rivers instead of Adrian Griffin? Could they still make that move?
Rivers was recently quoted as saying:
“You know, a lot of the assistants still talk to me… I pretty much stuck to my group… Now (with ESPN) I’m getting to meet all of these other coaches I’d never met.
~Nov. 14th “The Bill Simmons Podcast”
Rivers certainly still sounds like a coach who has an interest in coaching!
Where do the Milwaukee Bucks stand today?
The 2023-2024 Bucks simply have not started off as strong as the 2022-2023 Bucks season did. Last year Milwaukee had a perfect October, going 6-0. As of this writing the Bucks are 6-4.
Of course there are plenty of reasons to be patient with the new coach, aside from just being a hopeful fan. The NBA regular season can be quite long. Adrian Griffin has an NBA pedigree.
But so does Doc Rivers. In a recent interview/podcast with Bill Simmons, Rivers had this to say about Milwaukee:
I’m not worried about Milwaukee yet. The first thing I saw in the trade (for Lillard) is they are going to win all the close games now. They have a closer (Lillard)… Milwaukee couldn’t make shot and Jimmy Butler did. Well now, you have a closer. Dame is going to make shots at the end of the game
Giannis wanted someone as a head coach with NBA playing experience
Rivers certainly had all of that. His NBA career was a good one. You could even argue his children have also had wonderful professional careers.
But what about Coach Bud? Would Rivers had been an upgrade over him?
Budenholzer played professionally in Denmark for a season. Known as a pretty good scorer, he never played in the NBA. He comes from the “Popovich” coaching tree and had a tremendous amount of success under him as an assistant.
Coach Bud acknowledged many tough losses. “We were just beaten soundly in Memphis, in every way, shape, and form. We have to own that.”
Coach Bud’s all-time record is 446-301.
Adrian Griffin comes from a different path. Griffin did have success as an NBA player. The left hander played in 477 career games. In fact, he averaged 16 minutes a game. Griffin also averaged 4 points per game and around 3 rebounds.
As the Bucks franchise goes, “what Giannis wants, Giannis gets”. And ultimately that is not so terrible considering he will go down as the greatest player the team has ever had. But why didn’t GM Jon Horst not take more time to consider Doc Rivers?
Really, what needs to happen ultimately will: Giannis and Lillard will combine for an awesome, deadly pick n roll combo. When they do, it really could be tough for anyone to stop this team.
So far this season, Lillard and Antetokounmpo have run 29 picks together, which ranks 61st among combos leaguewide. Seems underused!
— Louis Zatzman (@LouisZatzman) November 2, 2023
For the former NBA player (Rivers) and for the current Bucks Coach that might be a plan that gets the Milwaukee Bucks closer to their ultimate goal: the NBA Championship.
But if Griffin continues to struggle as a 1st-year NBA Head Coach, could Doc Rivers come in and “save the day”? Well, if it ends in an NBA Championship the ends may justify the means.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Doc Rivers is currently a commentator for ESPN, providing expert analysis alongside Mike Breen and Doris Burke. This marks his second tenure with ESPN, a return since his initial role in the 2003-04 NBA season broadcast team.
Doc Rivers earned his nickname from Rick Majerus, an assistant coach at Marquette University. Majerus called Rivers "Doc" after seeing him in a "Dr. J" T-shirt, a tribute to the NBA legend Julius Erving, at a summer basketball camp. This nickname stuck with Rivers throughout his career.
Doc Rivers' salary as an NBA head coach is reported to be approximately 8 million per year. His contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, signed in 2020, is for five years,indicating a total value around 40 million across the duration of the agreement.