Just like with last year’s regular squad, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t earn the ultimate prize they sought but still managed to get some recognition for their efforts. The league announced today that Sandro Mamukelashvili (First Team) and Lindell Wigginton (Second Team) were each named to the All-Summer League Team, well-deserved accolades for their exploits in Las Vegas.
Tari Eason (Houston Rockets), Quentin Grimes (New York Knicks), Sandro Mamukelashvili (Milwaukee Bucks), Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings) and Cam Thomas (Brooklyn Nets) have been named to the NBA 2K23 All-Summer League First Team. pic.twitter.com/ffvd5TDWDg— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) July 18, 2022
Santi Aldama (Memphis Grizzlies), Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers), Marko Simonović (Chicago Bulls), Trendon Watford (Portland Trail Blazers) and Lindell Wigginton (Milwaukee Bucks) have been named to the NBA 2K23 All-Summer League Second Team. pic.twitter.com/Jpvysm5jLP— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) July 18, 2022
Last year’s two-way players for the Bucks went into Summer League expecting to lead the team, and they did not disappoint. Mamu and Wigginton had both been in the mix for Summer League MVP as recently as Sunday, based on the league’s MVP Ladder post. Wigginton, 24, was the most dynamic backcourt member for Milwaukee and made a compelling case for earning a second look at an NBA deal, whether on a two-way or standard contract. His future with the Bucks is in question, as they designated A.J. Green as their second two-way player ahead of Summer League, but Wigginton should at least stick around through training camp and preseason before being forced to find a deal elsewhere. If things go his way, it’s possible that Milwaukee awards him their final regular roster spot, or even cuts ties with Green and reinstates Lindell on a two-way contract. No matter what, Wigginton performed admirably over these last couple of weeks, and recognition for that performance is a welcome result.
Mamukelashvili, 23, took the First Team honors and is in a more secure – and interesting – position than his Vegas teammate. Sandro is already under a two-way contract with the Bucks, and as a second round draftee from last summer it stands to reason that Milwaukee will keep him around as a deep reserve. But as The Athletic’s Eric Nehm notes in his write-up today, Mamu would be stuck finding ways to contribute on the margins, rather than in a featured role.
Getting to play more high-level basketball will be great for Mamukelashvili, but it will be interesting to see what his role ends up being with the Georgian national team, because that has become the biggest question in determining his NBA future. In summer-league action, Mamukelashvili reprised the role he served at Seton Hall, where he was the team’s best player, handled the ball more than anyone and broke down the defense, and he put up great numbers. But that role most likely won’t be available to him in the NBA.
He is not going to be big and quick enough to thrive in a ball-dominant role like Giannis Antetokounmpo; he will need to find a more complementary role that fits into a larger team concept. Mamukelashvili has made it clear he can be “the man” against lesser competition, but how does he find a way to impact games in a smaller role? More competition will certainly be good for Mamukelashvili, but earning a spot in an NBA rotation will come down to what he can do in smaller roles.
Mamu did some interesting things in Vegas, and it’s clear that the improvements he added to his game (and his frame, going from 232 to 240 pounds) are meant to last. Is Milwaukee the best place for him to develop further, considering the depth at forward ahead of him and the comparative lack of developmental minutes available? There’s nothing to say that Mamu doesn’t like it in Milwaukee, but there might be more chances to grow in another environment. Stay tuned!
Notably absent from the Summer League Teams is Bucks first-round rookie MarJon Beauchamp, but not without reason. Beauchamp played as a role player in Vegas, and performed well in that role. He will undoubtedly get consideration to reprise that 3&D role with the Bucks this season, which is the sort of thing that might lead to team success but rarely results in individual accolades.
In any case, congratulations are due to Sandro Mamukelashvili, Lindell Wigginton, and all of the Vegas Bucks! Here’s hoping everybody gets a decent break for the rest of the summer and comes back prepared for preseason.