Love or hate him, former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer found something with Brook Lopez defensively.
Lopez has never been the quickest-footed player, but what he does well is guard the rim. So far this season, new Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin is having Brook Lopez guard players more outside the paint, which has caused some issues defensively. (Via StatMuse,) the Bucks have allowed teams to shoot at a 48 percent clip this season.
In the Mike Budenholzer era, teams shot from outside the paint against Milwaukee at will, but now teams are attacking Milwaukee from inside and outside.
What’s causing this discrepancy? Adrian Griffin hasn’t utilized the drop coverage this year, and players urged him to start doing so in Friday’s matchup against the New York Knicks.
Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Adrian Griffin said the players wanted him to use Brook Lopez in more drop coverage situations.
Brook Lopez had by far his best defensive performance in Friday’s 110-105 victory over the New York Knicks in the first game of the play-in tournament. Why? The players urged Adrian Griffin to bring back the drop coverage defense that has been successful for Milwaukee for the past five seasons. Griffin explains the sudden change.
“It’s about relationships. It really is. But it’s not abot just being their buddy. It’s building genuine, authentic relationships- build on trust like any relationship and trust takes time. Trust is also give and take. Like, I trusted the players. They wanted to switch up the coverages. They thought that was the best for our team and they were right.
Here’s Griffin’s full answer on the decision to start placing Brook Lopez in drop coverages.
Bucks Head Coach Adrian Griffin told us that players talked to him about placing Brook Lopez in a drop.
I asked him what it meant that they're comfortable enough to approach him about issues and work out adjustments together. A great answer about player/coach relationships: pic.twitter.com/oVPtOTo1OI
— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) November 4, 2023
This was a smart decision for Adrian Griffin and the Milwaukee Bucks. Certain defensive alignments work, and while Griffin tried to bring in fresh ideas, the personnel in Milwaukee isn’t the same as the one in Toronto. Despite Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo still being on the roster, Milwaukee got slightly worse defensively with the subtraction of Jrue Holiday. While Damian Lillard can provide big-time heroics like he did last night, he doesn’t defend at the same level as Holiday.
The team also had two blowout losses in the week, so whatever Adrian Griffin was doing, it wasn’t working.
The Milwaukee Bucks are still finding their footing in a vaunted Eastern Conference. Griffin’s ability to adjust on the fly will make this partnership go smoothly as the Bucks continue on their path to a championship.