Giannis Antetokounmpo Calls New Bucks HC Mike Budenholzer 'A Great Coach'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbles during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics Friday, April 20, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said Thursday he's "excited" to play for new head coach Mike Budenholzer.

Ian Begley of ESPN.com passed along comments the Greek Freak made on ESPN's NBA Draft Combine show about his discussion with the former Atlanta Hawks coach before Milwaukee announced his hiring Thursday.

"He's a great coach. He was the Coach of the Year in the 2015-2016 season," Antetokounmpo said. "We had a great conversation (before Budenholzer was hired and) talked about the game plan. How he views me as a player, how he can help this team. I had a lot of tough questions for him. But it was fun, I'm excited to play for him."

The 23-year-old two-time NBA All-Star Game selection explained it "meant a lot" for the organization to set up a meeting between Budenholzer and himself before making a final decision.

"Obviously I'm not the guy that's going to make the decision," he said on ESPN. "We can reverse that, like the front office is not going to tell me how to shoot a jump shot. I do my job; they do their part. But it was great having the conversation with him."

Of course, it made sense to make sure there was a connection between Antetokounmpo and the coach hired to fill the team's vacancy since he's Milwaukee's biggest key to future success.

He's coming off a 2017-18 campaign where he averaged 26.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks across 75 appearances. He ranked fifth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating, per ESPN.com.

Meanwhile, Budenholzer compiled a 213-197 record across five seasons in Atlanta. He guided the team to four straight playoff berths before a 24-58 record this season led to his mutual exit from the Hawks.

Now the front office must focus on continuing to build the roster around Antetokounmpo to become a legitimate contender in the loaded Western Conference.

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