Budenholzer believes Bucks’ rise starts with D

Mike Budenholzer became the Bucks head coach this summer.

Mike Budenholzer’s priorities as new coach of the Milwaukee Bucks? Defense, defense and more defense.

“I certainly believe that we can be a really, really good defensive team — elite, I would say,” Budenholzer said at his introductory press conference. 

“I think how we can improve and be better offensively and be more efficient and be more dynamic on an individual basis and on a team basis. … They’ve had a lot of success here and things have been done well. I think I’ll learn some of the things from what’s been done here over the last few years and marry it up with the core things I was talking about earlier.”

Budenholzer was hired by general manager Jon Horst to take the Bucks from first-round playoff fodder to a team that contend in the Eastern Conference. With a versatile and athletic star in Giannis Antetokounmpo already in place,  Budenholzer has the goods with which to work. Or at least is off to a good start.

“There’s a lot to work with here in Milwaukee,” Budenholzer said. “I really believe and I think there’s definitely the makings of a very good defensive team and it starts with Giannis. Giannis knows my expectations of him and how I’m going to push him on the defensive end of the court. That’s where it’s going to start.”

The Bucks were bounced by the Boston Celtics in the first round playoffs, losing in seven games. They fired Jason Kidd earlier in the season, then decided not to bring back interim man Joe Prunty.

After interviewing a wide array of candidates, they decided on Budenholzer — who parted ways with the Atlanta Hawks following the season.

“This is not an I game, this is not a me game. This is a we game,” Horst said. “To have someone with his experience and his knowledge to help us and support us is tremendous.”