Best Milwaukee Bucks coaches of all-time, ranked
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Best Milwaukee Bucks coaches of all-time, ranked

Bucks, Larry Costello, Don Nelson, George Karl, Del Harris, Mike Budenholzer

Since becoming an NBA team in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks have made the playoffs 32 times and captured one NBA title. That came back in 1971 when Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the team to the championship over the Baltimore Bullets in four games.

There have been plenty of superstars who have played for the Bucks, but the franchise has also had quite a few legendary coaches stroll the sidelines.

For this piece, we ranked the five best Bucks coaches in franchise history, starting off with a guy who has only been with the team for one and a half seasons and yet he’s already seventh in franchise history in wins.

5. Mike Budenholzer

The Bucks hired Budenholzer in the summer of 2018 and watched him turn the team into a championship contender in his first year at the helm.

In 2018-19, the Bucks not only had the best record in the NBA, but they had the MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Coach of the Year in Budenholzer. The former Atlanta Hawks coach won 60 games in his first season with the team, who went all the way to the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.

Before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to COVID-19, Budenholzer and the Bucks once again had the top record in the league. Bud already has 113 wins with Milwaukee, good for seventh in franchise history, and he figures to climb up the list once basketball resumes.

4. Del Harris

Harris was an assistant coach with the Bucks in 1986-87 before becoming the head coach for the 1987-88 season. Milwaukee went 42-20 in Harris’ first season.

Harris, an Indiana native, finished his Bucks career with 191 wins, good for fourth in franchise history. Harris coached in 21 playoff games with Milwaukee and went 6-15 in that stretch.

In December of 1991, Harris resigned from his post. He went on to win Coach of the Year with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1995.

3. George Karl

Karl, who led the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1996 NBA Finals, coached the Bucks from 1999-2003. He won 205 games in the regular season.

Karl has the third-most wins in Milwaukee franchise history. The Bucks made the playoffs four times under his tutelage, going 14-18 for the third-most postseason wins in franchise history.

2. Don Nelson

Nelson won 540 games with the Bucks in his 11 years with the organization. That’s first in franchise history.

The team made the playoffs nine times under Nelson and had a mark of 42-46. Along with having the most wins in regular-season history, Nelson has the most postseason wins, too.

The Bucks were unfortunately never able to win a title with Nelson in charge, but they were a perennial playoff club while Nelli was coaching up the squad.

Nelson won the 1983 Coach of the Year Award after leading the Bucks to 51 wins.

1. Larry Costello

Costello was the man in charge of the only Bucks team which has won it all. The 1970-71 Bucks won 66 games during the regular season and led the NBA in scoring at 118.4 points per game.

From 1969-1977 with Costello, the Bucks won 410 games. Costello has the second-most wins in Milwaukee franchise history. He also has the second-best winning percentage in postseason history.

The 1971 NBA Finals between the Bucks and Bullets was never really a fair fight. Milwaukee swept Baltimore to capture its first and lone championship in franchise history. Kareem was named Finals MVP after averaging 27.0 points and 18.5 rebounds.