The Milwaukee Bucks: Ergo(dicity) Fire Bud

Mike Budenholzer runs a beautiful motion offense. The ball moves. The math makes sense. It maximizes the numbers of points you score vs. what you give up. It all seems so logical and the regular season results are stunning. The problem comes in that the point is to win a championship which means above all else… surviving.

ELI5 Ergodicity

The main difference between ergodic and non-ergodic systems is whether the behavior of the whole system is the same as the behavior of its individual components. In ergodic systems, the behavior of the whole system is the same as the behavior of its individual components, while in non-ergodic systems, the behavior of the whole system is different from the behavior of its individual components.

The easiest way to think about this is a game where you triple your money 50% of the time and lose it all the rest. On an expected value basis – this makes complete sense. For instance – if you start with $100, the expected value of playing is ($100 * triple your money * 50% odds + $100 * 0 * 50% odds = $150 + 0 = $150… $150 > $100). If we knew the value of every instance was 1.5x your money – that is far different than the expected value being 1.5x. When you are dealing with individual components being different than the whole – that means you need to act differently if you value survival. Blindly maximizing expected value with complete disregard for surviving is a psycho thing to do. It’s what SBF did.

To put it more simply, being antifragile is ergodic (and being fragile is non-ergodic).

Ergo(dicity) fire Bud

The Bucks have been blindly following an offensive and defensive system. They have been blindly following expected value, not making necessary adjustments. In the regular season, that works. In the playoffs, the game changes. Adapting is required. In game coaching is required with live tweaks to offset the tweaks the other teams are making. It’s clearly a balance between adapting and overreacting, but the Bucks clearly didn’t find that balance.

Bud’s system maximizes expected value, not championships. He led the Atlanta Hawks with Paul Millsap and Al Horford to the 1 seed! The rosters in his final two years in Atlanta were atrocious (Millsap, Schroeder and Hardaway Jr. were the leading scorers on the team). Yet he’s had 3 epic postseason meltdowns with arguably the best player in the league. Bud is a great regular season coach and a terrible post season one. The system is non-ergodic. Each game is unique to itself. Each series is unique to itself. Success in the regular season doesn’t equate to post season.

On top of this, he struggles with the basics (calling timeouts). Not taking timeouts to advance the ball. Not adjusting to Jimmy Butler going supernova. Not attacking the scrubs on the floor. A pretty system can cover hide other problems, but on a long enough time horizon, your flaws will be exposed. For Mike Budenholzer that was adjusting and in game management. Some of the gaffes were mindblowingly bad.

Fire bud, go bucks.

Author: fatbabyfunds