Assessing the Milwaukee Bucks Coaching Staff for 2020-21
The Milwaukee Bucks are among the best teams in the NBA, with most sportsbooks pegging them as the favorite to emerge from the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee was aggressive during the offseason in appeasing superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, while the team continues to have the coaching to make a deep playoff run.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer heads a strong overall Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff, but there may be a lot you don’t know about Coach “Bud” and his crew.
As the season rapidly approaches, let’s take a closer look at the faces on the sidelines with my Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff analysis.
Mike Budenholzer – Head Coach
Milwaukee has been extremely good ever since the 51-year old Budenholzer arrived in 2018, with the Bucks reaching the playoffs in both of his seasons on the job.
Coach “Bud” took a mere playoff contender to the next level in his first year in Mil-town, helping unlock eventual NBA MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Budenholzer’s direction has led to back-to-back 56+ win seasons, including two straight Central Division crowns and one run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
His history includes a prior Eastern Conference Finals trip with the Atlanta Hawks, where he won his first of two Coach of the Year awards.
His 17 years spent before that were next to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, where he was part of four championship teams.
Budenholzer’s teams he’s coached himself have yet to reach the NBA Finals, but he’s led his team into the NBA playoffs in six of seven years as the main shot-caller of an NBA franchise.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Assistant Coaches
Budenholzer has made a name for himself as someone who preaches great team defense and ball-sharing, but he doesn’t conduct Milwaukee’s lineup by himself.
Coach “Bud” is aided by an underrated Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff, featuring Darvin Ham, as well as newcomers like Josh Oppenheimer and Mike Dunlap.
Bucks have officially hired Mike Dunlap and Josh Oppenheimer as assistant coaches.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) November 17, 2020
Here’s a breakdown of the other coaches on the Milwaukee Bucks going into the 2020-21 NBA season.
The 47-year old Ham is recognizable to Bucks fans, as he spent three years with the team as a player from 1999-2002.
As a coach, he’s gained valuable experience in the NBA G-League, and even at one time worked as a development specialist with superstars like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
A rising head coaching candidate, Ham has drawn praise from Budenholzer, who he also worked under in Atlanta.
Milwaukee’s top assistant coach is clearly making a name for himself. He’ll do his best to help the Bucks get to the Finals in 2021, but it’s clear it may not be long before he gets a bigger gig elsewhere.
A sought after basketball mind, the 36-year old was attached to the New Orleans Pelicans as recently as this offseason.
The Bucks will gladly hold onto Lee for as long as they can, of course, as he’s been a key voice Mike Budenholzer has leaned on for years.
There’s also Ben Sullivan, who has had the fun task of assisting Giannis Antetokoummpo with improving his shooting.
The Greek Freak has been forthcoming about Sullivan’s impact and general guidance, suggesting in an interview that Sullivan doesn’t just help with his stroke.
Patrick St. Andrews
Another holdover from Mike Budenholzer’s days in Atlanta, Patrick St. Andrews offers continuity in the Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff. He’s been with Coach “Bud” since being elevated from Assistant Video Coordinator with the Hawks back in 2016.
If you remember Darvin Ham’s playing days in Milwaukee, you’re sure to recall Vin Baker. A Bucks legend, Baker was the 8th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft and did not disappoint as a player.
The bruising Baker was a very effective big man for the Bucks, putting up 13.5 points per game as a rookie and eventually morphing into a double-double stud (21 points and 10 rebounds per contest) in his final season with the team.
Baker’s playing experience is understandably where he hangs his hat at the moment, as Milwaukee is his first and only coaching gig.
He doesn’t have the big name of former Bucks like Ham or Baker, but Forcier is a huge presence for the Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff.
A tried and true assistant, Forcier has been in the game on the sidelines since 1997, when he got his start with Oregon State.
From there, Forcier has had more than a taste of coaching at a high level, as he’s spent time in Detroit, San Antonio, Orlando, and Memphis, before arriving in Mil-town in 2019.
Oppenheimer is one of the more diverse and versatile minds the Bucks coaching staff has to offer. As a player, he spent time at three different colleges and also pursued a career overseas.
The 51-year old has been grinding away in the coaching lifestyle since 1997, with his most prominent previous stop coming in Houston, where he worked with James Harden and the Rockets in 2016-17.
This happens to be Oppenheimer’s second stint with the Bucks, as he also enjoyed time as an assistant with the team from 2013 to 2016.
Lastly, we have new arrival Mike Dunlap, who joined Oppenheimer as fresh faces for the 2020-21 NBA campaign.
Dunlap may honestly have the best resume of any of the Milwaukee Bucks assistant coaches, as the 63-year old has held some level of a coaching gig since 1980. He’s had previous NBA stops in Denver and Charlotte but is likely best known for coaching Loyola Marymount.
The Milwaukee Bucks have an even stronger coaching staff than they did a year ago.
Adding Oppenheimer and Dunlap improves their experience and wealth of knowledge, which is saying something for a franchise headed by Mike Budenholzer.
The latter has been criticized for his playoff failures, but the Bucks are still in a position to finish the year with one of the best records of the league and may even compete for a title.
With Milwaukee’s stellar coaching staff in place, they have no limitations going into the 2020-21 NBA season.