This is the second installment of Brew Hoop’s 2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations. This preview is laid out in an identical fashion to last year and covers three topics: What the player does to help (Boon), what they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).
Before we dive into this player review I need to clear the air. Some might call me a D.J. Wilson hater. I’d choose a different word; realist. I’m a D.J. realist. I certainly agree I’m slower to come around on him than most. I see him as a niche player who has pronounced flaws. With that said, I’m always taking in new information and my opinions aren’t set in stone. If Wilson proves over an extended period of time that he’s ready for NBA action, I’m willing to change my mind.
Wilson’s Boon: Defensive Flexibility
Wilson is the perfect defensive big in the modern era of basketball. At 6-foot-10 and 231 pounds, he’s tall enough to defend either power forwards or centers. He can bang with them down low and makes up for in length what he lacks in strength. He also possesses enough lateral quickness to stay with most wings and guards when switching in the pick-and-roll. That defensive flexibility is ideal.
This clip is a pretty impressive array of solid fundamentals, lack of discipline, intriguing skill and incredible athleticism all rolled into one. He begins by containing Trae Young on the pick and roll and recovering to Vince Carter at the top of the arc. Unfortunately, a poor closeout leaves Wilson trailing the play. Always the one to hustle, he works his way back to the ball and swats John Collins’ layup off the backboard.
Wilson’s Bane: Shooting Touch
He leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the offensive end of the floor. He struggles to score at every level and is basically a complete liability. The second-year player only converted 57 percent of his shots around the rim which ranked in the 14th percentile among bigs according to Cleaning the Glass. He wasn’t much better in the mid-range. He connected on only 33 percent of all looks in that area which also ranks poorly.
The only area that helped Wilson’s effective field goal percentage from sitting lower than the 16th percentile was his three-point shooting. He converted 36.2 percent of all outside attempts last season. In fear of being a negative nelly, that number looks a lot better than it actually is. It’s propped up thanks to two good months in December and January. If we only count games from February on, his three-point number would have been 30.3 percent.
To continue the dog pile, he made a Shaq-like 55.3 percent of his free throws. A lot of his struggles are due to his straight-line, missile launch. He often lacks any type of arc in his shot which gives the ball little chance to go in. It’s a problem at every level of the court.
Does Wilson Belong?
One word: Yes. Wilson is far from a perfect player as evidence in the section above. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a spot for him on this Bucks’ roster. He took a huge leap from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign and there’s no reason to think another jump isn’t in store.
Wilson’s already a plus defensive player who brings flexibility and effort to the court. That’s a skill he’ll be able to hang his hat on. There’s always hope he can develop better touch with the ball in his hands as well. That’s a difficult skill to master, as it seems to be more innate than anything else. Regardless, hard work can go a long way and Wilson will spend his summer in the gym.