Sunday morning (Manila time), it was announced that the Milwaukee Bucks have hired Adrian Griffin as their next head coach. He will be replacing Mike Budenholzer, who instantly turned the franchise into a title contender, highlighted by a championship run in 2021.
Griffin had a nine-year career in the NBA (1999-2008) and was known as a classic hustle guy and defensive specialist. Being a former player has become valuable piece in one candidate’s resume. Front offices believe it is usually a good fit with the roster given how there’s a quick level of understanding between one another, which then turns into a lot of positives. Star players tend to prefer it more and more too.
There are 10 current head coaches who are former NBA players, most notably Steve Kerr, Jason Kidd, and Tyronn Lue, and the list is growing.
It’s also a plus that Griffin has not exactly left the league as he instantly turned into coaching following his retirement. He has been an assistant since the 2008-09 season, and the hiring is actually a homecoming as he was part of former Bucks coach Scott Skiles’s staff from 2008 to 2010.
Also included in Griffin’s resume is his recent stint with the Toronto Raptors, where he was a top assistant to now ex-head coach Nick Nurse for five seasons. He was there during the team’s memorable, Kawhi Leonard-led title run in 201. Interestingly enough, Nurse was also a finalist for the Bucks job.
Griffin’s experience as a player adds a unique perspective to his coaching approach. He was a leader on the court and has been around a handful of respected coaches. This first-hand understanding of the game will undoubtedly be invaluable in his new role.
His oldest son, Alan, is in the G-League, while his other son, AJ, was a highly recruited player out of high school. AJ played for the Duke Blue Devils under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski and was drafted 16th overall in 2022 by the Atlanta Hawks, where he’s part of the rotation.
Raising two kids to be high-level players should also tell a lot about Griffin.
Big shoes to fill
As he steps into the spotlight, Griffin recognizes the enormous shoes he is looking to fill. While Budenholzer has certainly had his share of shortcomings as a coach, hence the firing, the Bucks were considered underachievers before he came, and what he did was catapult them to a whole new echelon. It included ranking atop offensive and defensive categories, stringing together high-seeded regular season finishes (three no. 1 seeds in five seasons), the aforementioned 2021 title, and the further development of “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo, who evolved into a championship-caliber player, punctuated by winning two Most Valuable Player (2019, 2020) and one Defensive Player of the Year (2022) awards during his tenure.
The good thing for Griffin, however, is he was co-signed by Antetokounmpo – knowing the Greak Freak’s importance to the franchise, it’s one of the biggest backings he can get in the franchise. Such an endorsement speaks volumes about the trust and belief the organization has, and that’s a good start for any coach, especially if the guy he’s replacing is pretty accomplished.
With Griffin at the helm, the Bucks hope to continue their winning tradition and build on their recent success. The team boasts a talented roster, led by Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. Under Griffin’s leadership, they should be able to remain as a formidable force in the Eastern Conference and compete for future championships. Every elimination from the last couple of years were tough to swallow so the level of hunger is just overflowing.
Griffin’s coaching philosophy also aligns with the Bucks’ focus on defense and team-oriented play. Throughout his career, he has emphasized the importance of discipline, communication, and a strong work ethic. These values align perfectly with Milwaukee’s identity as a hard-working, defensively sound team.