The Milwaukee Bucks have the third best record in the NBA since January 22nd (9-2), the day Joe Prunty took over for a fired Jason Kidd. People like to bring up the softer than pudding schedule they’ve had over this stretch, but the results can’t be ignored. The teams the Bucks have been playing (and beating) are the same teams we’ve seen them struggling or losing to, over the course of 3+ seasons under Kidd.
Gone are the days of a frantic, overzealous, maddening defensive scheme that gets the Bucks lit up from distance. Gone are the days of trying to bottle up a youthful, long, athletic team to half court and position-less basketball. Joe Prunty has simplified things both offensively and defensively. He has also put players in positions to win. This includes putting players in positions of comfort and solidifying a rotation. (This while navigating through a rash of injuries, returns, and trades.) Prunty has been the positive force this team (and many fans) have needed.
So for all of the good Prunty has done, why doesn’t anyone believe he can earn the permanent position as head coach of the Bucks? Now I shouldn’t say no one believes, because those who’ve been around him certainly believe he can. (Brewers broadcaster, Brian Anderson, certainly believes he can.) The majority of people outside of coaching circles have their doubts.
I believe those doubts stem from Prunty being a relative unknown in the head coaching ranks. He’s never had his own show to run. Add to that, the fact the Bucks are coming off of a huge swing and miss with another unknown in Jason Kidd and you have great trepidation. (Reasonable)
So, what is enough? What will it take for Joe Prunty to get the “Interim” tag dropped from his position?
Some people are delusional with their expectations. (Social Media is full of this.) I’ve read anything from a conference finals appearance to winning the NBA Championship. (Bucks are not there yet, no matter WHO the coach is.) Suffice to say, you can’t really rely on those takes. Then there’s those who are reasonable. A top four seed and a first-round series win is what those reasonable thinkers believe it will take. (I believe this is doable.)
I’m not sure what it will take. General Manager, Jon Horst, has said the organization will consider Prunty in the process of filling the position. Prunty is benefitted by an extended audition. He essentially has half a season to show what he can do with this group. However, he still has to fight the stigma of having been a part of the failed Kidd experiment and being a (no disrespect and this refers to how the masses see him) no-name coach.
This summer, Horst and the organization will cast a wide net for head coaching candidates. For Joe Prunty, he has time to prove he can be a prize catch.