As is the case for most new pro teams, the Wisconsin Herd struggled to have any immediate success after entering the G League in 2017. In the first two years, the team struggled mightily by finishing 21-29 in 2017-18 and 12-38 in 2018-19. Those struggles pushed the Herd team to fire their inaugural head coach Jordan Brady immediately following that second season. Following a search that lasted more than four months, the Herd named 30-year-old Chase Buford as their new head coach.
Immediately, it was evident that the fate of the team has taken a 180 degree as they went 12-1 in their first thirteen games. That success was driven by the offensive firepower of the two-headed core of Rayjon Tucker and Jaylen Adams with Bucks players Dragan Bender and Frank Mason helping out as recurring characters, as they all averaged at least 20 points per game. The strength of that core helped push the team to average 108.8 points per 100 possessions, which placed them as the fourth best offense in the G League during that stretch.
Even after Rayjon Tucker was called up by the Jazz and Dragan Bender was waived by Milwaukee, the Herd continued to shine as one of the premier teams in the G League. While that still had a lot to do with their success on the offensive end, they were able to balance it by being as strong on the other end of the floor. For the year, opposing squads averaged just 105.2 points per 100 possessions against Wisconsin, the fourth lowest number in the G League. To put that in perspective, that’s a huge improvement over the prior season where they gave up a league-high 111.6 points per 100.
With that fourth best defense combined with an offense that finished seventh in points per 100 possessions, the Herd joined the 30-12 SLC Stars as the only two teams that finished the year in the top-10 on both ends of the floor. Along with their slightly better 33-10 record, Buford’s brigade of deer finished finished the year with the best Net Rating in the G League.
In addition to being the head coach of the best team in the G League, Buford stands out through how he was able to build a winning culture that every player on the team was able to follow despite not having any experience working together before the start of training camp. While the talent of guys like Jaylen Adams and Frank Mason definitely helped push them towards success, a great team still needs a coach that knows how to utilize the skills of his players to work as a collective unit on both ends of the floor. And during the 2019-20 season, there was nobody in the G League better at that than the 1st year head coach.
With those reasons, we’re proud to announce that Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford is Ridiculous Upside’s pick for G League Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season.