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Milwaukee’s New Additions Starting to Take Roles

How Milwaukee’s three new editions have fit into the pecking order

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The first weeks of the NBA season will forever remain a low point of meaningful sports banter. When there’s an entire year left to work through, or in Milwaukee’s case, 78 more games, first impressions are laughably trivial. Yet some choose to buy into the Milwaukee Bucks becoming a Knicks-caliber doormat.

But that’s a discussion for another day. Right now, one thing that we can feasibly take away from the first week (or so) is player roles. Below, Brew Hoop evaluates the who-fits-where of Milwaukee’s three main free agency signings.

Kyle Korver

How about we get some “fine wine” chants rolling in here? To think that at 38 years old Korver would be posting career highs in scoring per 36 minutes is mind-blowing — no wonder Coach Budenholzer is welcoming him with open arms.

Role: Korver will be a 20-minutes-per-game guy, and for now, Milwaukee’s seventh man. He’ll play relatively unfiltered, always with a green light shining over him with the ball in his hands.

Key Stat (per Basketball Reference): Korver is averaging 19.9 points per game per 36 minutes. He’s also shooting 50 percent from three, which, unbelievably, isn’t even the best mark of his career.

Wesley Matthews

Last season, Matthews had stints in three different organizations. Barring Milwaukee’s front office getting a trade itch at (or before?) the deadline, the “3-and-D” swingman will have a future in his home state.

Role: Coach Bud seems to prefer Matthews as the fifth starter, though he’s taking a back seat in that fix. Matthews is plugging in below career average numbers in points, assists, rebounds and three-point percentage.

But, the early dip may be reflecting a change in style. The rigid system Milwaukee has on offense is rubbing off on the journeyman, who is letting seven threes fly a night (his second highest 3PA over his career), often playing off drives from Giannis.

Key Stat (per Basketball Reference): How much has Matthews adopted Milwaukee’s shooting trends? Well, he’s taken 1 percent of his shots from 3-22 feet. It’s layups or threes only. What’s not to love, Bucks fans?

Robin Lopez

That preseason mirage was convincing, wasn’t it? Many, including me, thought Lopez would explode onto the scene after showing x-factor potential in the preseason, but he has mellowed out to start the year. Right now, the center is averaging only 3.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 15 minutes a game.

Role: As of now, he’s a solid backup center for his brother, Brook, and an integral part of Milwaukee’s 10-man rotation.

Occasionally Coach Bud appeals to the small ball look, throwing Ersan Ilyasova and Giannis in the frontcourt in lieu of just Lopez. When he’s on the floor, though, there are benefits. With his spazzy post moves and mobile seven-foot frame, he offers up the back-to-the-basket prowess that no one else on the roster can match.

Key Stat (per Basketball Reference): Robin’s career PER is 16.1, this season it’s at 0.9. Let’s just call it a rocky start.