Bucks basketball is back, and the team showed up in full practice mode with their 19-man roster for an open scrimmage in front of hundreds of fans at Fiserv Forum on Saturday. It was practice time. A "Black Team against White Team" in classic practice jerseys, the doors of the arena and deer district open, and fans in seats. Yes, that means Giannis Antetokounmpo did play much to the satisfaction of Bucks fans looking to get a good look at their team before the 2022-2023 regular season starts. The rest of the team, especially the new players and new rookie MarJon Beauchamp were on site also, which made for an all-around successful open scrimmage.
The scrimmage, which used to be a fan fest and has been limited to just an open practice type deal to watch the team before the regular season starts, was a success on Saturday. With that said, the scrimmage is a serious basketball practice for a sneak peek at the team, to check out the new additions and old, and analyze what works and doesn’t.
The Bucks did just that on Saturday in part thanks to MarJon Beauchamp, the young wing sharpshooter. Beauchamp was the Bucks draft pick this year in the 2022 NBA Draft with the 24th pick. He previously played in the G-League for the G-League Ignite, and prior to Saturday, he hadn’t spent any time with the full roster. Beauchamp participated in the Summer League and he played in preseason games for the Bucks, but the scrimmage was different. The scrimmage on Saturday was helpful in surveying just how well he fits into his new team with all entities of the team included and on the home floor for one last run just amongst his new NBA teammates. At one point, Beauchamp and Antetokounmpo were on the same squad and they were guarding one another in a man-to-man. The pairing up with Antetokounmpo clearly was to only help the new rookie. Being on the floor with 2-time MVP and Bucks leader Antetokounmpo was one of many highlights of the scrimmage. Beauchamp capitalized on his time on the floor with the greats by contributing a couple buckets during the afternoon. He flushed down one of his signature posterizers on teammate Jordan Nwora, which sent an applause through the crowd and reminded everyone why the Bucks drafted him. That’s why this piece is called, "The MarJon Beauchamp Showcase,'' or why I assumed while I was in attendance, "Is this Bucks Open Scrimmage or MarJon Beauchamp Showcase?" All the fans knew it was really a showcase for Beauchamp, and seeing the rookie who wears the number 0 in action, amongst the usual and other things.
Beauchamp wasn’t alone on Saturday. Rookie AJ Green was present and played some minutes. Beauchamp and Green were on the same team - the White Team - along with George Hill, Bobby Portis, Serge Ibaka, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Jordan Nwora, Lindell Wiggington, and Marques Bolden. On the other end, The Black Team consisted of Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Grayson Allen, and Jevon Carter. The Black Team, as illustrated, hoisted the starters and the White Team had everyone else. The Black Team got off to an 11-0 run early in the going. The White Team fought their way back in the second and third quarters before falling just short before the final buzzer. The team with coach Charles Lee, Antetokounmpo, and the starters won. The scrimmage was played through 3 quarters.
The scrimmage wasn’t all about the stats, but the quality of play and analyzing the stats is more conducive for the Bucks at the moment. Of course, they were on Saturday and are going to be missing Khris Middleton due to a wrist injury per a report from The Athletic’s Eric Nehm. Pat Connaughton, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Wesley Matthews were noticeably missing from the scrimmage. Another report per Nehm, is that Connaughton is "going to be a little bit" and the team expects veteran Matthews back before Connaughton. Antetokounmpo has been dealing with an illness (non-COVID). New Buck Joe Ingles wasn’t active in the open scrimmage, but he did appear in regular clothes to participate in a half-court shot and a giveaway to the fans.
The fans were treated to a fan fest type deal where the players gave away autograph-signed balls and a half-court shot on behalf of fans for a gift card to the Milwaukee Bucks Pro Shop took place. Nwora hit the magic half-court shot for the Bucks.
As mentioned, the scrimmage in previous years had been an all-out fan fest with more half-court shots, giveaways, an autograph-signing table, and on-court interviews. This scrimmage was more about basketball, and that’s a good thing for this time of year for the Bucks with their recent injuries, failure to make the Finals last year, and the new season around the corner. Even in the middle of serious basketball, however, the fan fare managed to overtake the afternoon. The deer district was crowded as if there was a regular season game happening. The open scrimmage included a Bernie Mac impression and more.
When the scrimmage was over, the Bucks players hung around to interact with the crowd and fans went home pleased with their 2022-2023 squad. In spite of the injuries and it being just an open scrimmage, Saturday certainly served its purpose in gearing the public up for the opening of the season. It was sort of about showing off basketball to the fans on Saturday. After all, this is a fanpost. There’s not much to say until the Bucks take the floor for the regular season.
The Bucks open up the season on Thursday night, Oct. 20 against the Philadelphia 76ers, which is a road game. That will be a test for them before they take the floor for the home-opener, and that game is against the Houston Rockets. Judging by Saturday, the Bucks will be ready, at least with the support of their roaring fanbase who believe and want to bring another championship to the city.