The 2020-2021 NBA season has been full of struggles for many teams in the league. Whether it be postponed games, health and safety protocols pulling players from games, or injuries to star players, it has been a tough road. However, the Milwaukee Bucks have remained in good health for most of the season thus far. Despite being a healthy team, the Bucks have been suffering on the court with sloppy basketball and poor coaching. The Bucks, led by Mike Budenholzer, have had a few losing streaks as of late, something we have not seen for a bulk of Budenholzer’s reign. While some of the poor basketball falls on the players, is it time we start to turn our eyes to Budenholzer being a problem? Let’s take a look at the reasons why Coach Bud may be on the hot seat.
Lack of Three-Point Defense
The defense has been a very serious issue for the Bucks so far this season, but this is not just a fluke. Under Mike Budenholzer, teams have done historically well against the Bucks, and the 2019-2020 season gives us a better look at just how poor the three-point defense was. According to Fansided, six teams made their most threes in a game against the Bucks. Twelve teams had a top-five three-point shooting game against the Bucks. Finally, sixteen teams had a top-ten three-point shooting performance against the Bucks. That’s right, over half of the teams in the NBA had top-ten performances from beyond the arc against the Bucks. If you take a look at this season, you will see similar stats. Here are some three-point percentages from opposing teams in a few of the Bucks losses this season:
- New York Knicks: 59.3%
- Los Angeles Lakers: 51.4%
- Brooklyn Nets: 48.4%
- Utah Jazz: 47.2%
Those numbers certainly jump off the stat sheet, and it is no longer just a coincidence. Under Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks simply can not defend the three-point line. So shouldn’t Budenholzer be making some adjustments to help the team? Let’s get into that.
Refusal to Make Adjustments
As shown above, teams can shoot the three at will against the Bucks. So, what has Mike Budenholzer done to respond to teams shooting extremely well against Milwaukee? Well, in short, nothing. The struggles for this team are becoming more and more glaring, but nothing is being done. That strictly falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff. The Bucks have playmakers on this team. A generational superstar in Giannis, an All-Star caliber player in Khris Middleton, a point guard who can run the offense and make big plays on the defensive end in Jrue Holiday, and others. Yet their talents are not being used to their full potential. The Bucks defense sags often, leaving teams with the ability to use very little ball movement to create open shots, and that has not changed throughout the season. If Milwaukee has any hope of making a run, adjustments need to be made and they need to be made quickly.
Dodging Questions and Avoiding Discussions of Team Issues
Coach Budenholzer gives very little information away when it comes to the team. This can be a good thing, however, it seems that Budenholzer does not like to discuss why the team is struggling. Transparency is very important whether that be transparency to the media or transparency to the fans. However, Bud does not address the issues. Rather, he seems to dodge the question and give an extremely basic response. As a head coach, Budenholzer should be a leader, address the issues, make adjustments, and use the rhetoric of a leader. It seems that Budenholzer uses almost none of those qualities. Following the loss to the Toronto Raptors on February 16th, Coach Budenholzer gave a very basic response, giving almost no insight as to why the Bucks struggled against a below .500 team. Here is a tweet from Eric Nehm showing Budenholzer’s answer.
Budenholzer on the defense tonight:
"VanVleet was obviously good. I thought they got into the paint and hurt us with 3s. They hurt us a little bit in transition. They hurt us on the offensive boards. It was a little bit of everything. Boucher hit some shots. They played well."
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 17, 2021
The Milwaukee Bucks have struggled the last two seasons after an Eastern Conference Finals run in the 2018-2019 season. As stated, a bulk of the struggles fall on the players, but we need to take a good look at Coach Budenholzer. Is the inability to make adjustments the biggest issue? Or is dodging questions and the lack of leadership rhetoric the biggest issue? Should Mike Budenholzer be on the hot seat? Feel free to leave your thoughts below!