Hey, you! Yeah, you! Did you know that this is the last “regular season” game for the Vegas-version of the Milwaukee Bucks? If you’re here on Brew Hoop, of course you did. You also know that the Bucks bested the Nets and tamed the Timberwolves, while dropping one to Boston off a prayer of a shot that happened to drop. Tonight, it’s the Dallas Mavericks, and the result will influence where the Bucks start their quest for...whatever these are.
For the first time, rings will be handed out to the Summer League champions. We got an exclusive look on NBA Today. What do you think? pic.twitter.com/HovjFNXKFE— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 8, 2022
Where We’re At
The Bucks have played three games, and there’s three players who the team cares about most: first round pick MarJon Beauchamp, new two-way sharpshooter AJ Green, and existing two-way player/stock exchange aficionado Sandro Mamukelashvili. Some of the other players on the roster (particularly Rayjon Tucker, who ended last season on the regular roster, and Lindell Wigginton, who ended last season on a two-way contract) have also made an impact, but for now the Bucks have one regular roster spot and both two-way slots spoken for, so the list of which guys stand a chance to stick around through opening night is unfortunately short.
Let’s start with Beauchamp, who boasts the highest upside of anybody in Vegas for Milwaukee. The rookie is playing relatively heavy minutes (28.6 per games, where each game is only 40 minutes) and is getting every opportunity to take a lead role. His scoring is relatively muted (he’s put up 16, 15, and 15 points in three games) but he has been both confident and competent from beyond the arc. MarJon has made nine of his eighteen three-point attempts, a mark he’s not likely to maintain but a positive sign for his translation into the NBA. Not all of his makes have been pretty, but if Beauchamp can buy into the “let it fly!” mantra and maintain the defensive pressure that made him a first round pick, Milwaukee just might have a player on its hands.
AJ Green, a recent signing out of Northern Iowa, does not give similar impressions. His specialty is shooting, and while he’s more than happy to put shots up (three-quarters of his 7.7 FGAs per game are threes), the shot stopped falling after he hit his first four against Brooklyn. No, seriously. Green went 4/4 in the first half of the first game, then went 0/4 in the second half, 0/5 in game 2, and 0/4 in game three. Small sample size acknowledged, it would be a shame if AJ Green’s two-way dreams were dashed as a result of a poorly-timed shooting slump. But even if shooting slumps are something that the Bucks know well, and both Wigginton and Tucker have each had a far greater impact in their time on the floor.
Player To Watch
Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about Mamu. The Seton Hall product has been a primary engine for the Bucks, putting up 21.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in his 30.3 minutes per game, all while contributing 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks per contest and shooting a scorching 56.3% from deep. With that level of production, it’s easy to get carried away and think that the Bucks already found their big man of the future...but context is key. Mamu is doing well serving as the offensive centerpiece of the Summer League squad, and his effort has been nothing short of commendable. But this level of competition is simply lower than what it will be in the “normal” NBA, where Mamu’s gifts might have too little opportunity to shine through. His improvement as a shooter and with his physical strength give him hope, but will it translate in a few months? Sandro has always been a clever player who was either too small (for centers) or too slow-footed (for forwards) to make the impact he had in college, so tonight might be his last chance to showcase his talents for a little while.
Today’s game will air at 7:00pm (central) on whatever ESPNU is. I was convinced this game was another NBA TV broadcast, but I guess you can probably find it on any of the various ESPN sources. Stick with it, we’re almost through this!