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Ranking The Roster: Wesley Matthews Stifles His Way To Eight

While a key defender last season, the veteran wing will turn 36 before opening night

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Now we’re into firm postseason rotation territory with these rankings, and local product Wesley Matthews is the next guy up the totem pole at eighth, as chosen by the Brew Hoop votership.


The 8th most important player to Milwaukee’s postseason success is...

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Wes Matthews
    (134 votes)
  • 3%
    Pat Connaughton
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Bobby Portis
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Brook Lopez
    (3 votes)
  • 36%
    Grayson Allen
    (87 votes)
236 votes total Vote Now

A year older than Joe Ingles, who finished above Matthews yesterday at ninth, the former Marquette Golden Eagle signed with Milwaukee for another tour of duty just over a month into the 2021–22 season after a gap year in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for him, that was the year the Bucks won a title, so he re-upped this season on another veteran’s minimum in pursuit of his first ring. The Lakers paid him a bit more during that lost campaign, but that confluence of home state loyalty and more favorable championship odds made it a no-brainer to take less money and come home.

Just like in his first Milwaukee stint in 2019–20, Matthews’ role with the current squad is all about his defensive prowess. While he was a more prolific scorer earlier in his career with Portland, the Achilles tear he suffered at the end of his tenure there shifted him into a classic 3-and-D role as he began his new contract in Dallas. Of course, Achilles injuries are one of the most disastrous calamities that can befall an NBA player, so a reduced role made sense as Matthews moved into his 30s.

Thankfully for the Madison Memorial alum, any injury or age-related slips in athleticism didn’t impact his brand of effective and physical on-ball perimeter defense. Mike Budenholzer sensed a growing need to infuse his lineup with the aforementioned skill as the playoffs neared, so Matthews replaced Grayson Allen among the starters when April began, echoing P.J. Tucker’s insertion during the 2021 first round and reuniting 4/5ths of the 2019 starting lineup.

Even at 35 years old, plus giving 2–4 inches to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Matthews’ brute strength was the best counter Milwaukee had to Boston’s star wings. His lateral footspeed was sufficient to keep up with guys a decade his junior, so without the Bucks’ other key wing defender in Khris Middleton, Matthews logged the third-most minutes (tied with Pat Connaughton) of any Buck in that second-round series.

I admit that seeing Matthews come off before Allen surprised me a bit, given the negativity a vocal portion of the Bucks’ fanbase has expressed toward the latter in the wake of an early playoff exit (more on that tomorrow). However, I see why people think Matthews could be a more peripheral piece this coming season. Obviously, age tops the list of trepidations here, but we must acknowledge his declining shot as one element potentially keeping him off the floor in a key playoff series. Averaging 5.7 PPG second round, Matthews shot just 33% from both the floor and field after a regular season with .395/.338/.786 shooting, resulting in 5.1 PPG.

Granted, Matthews’ role as a low-volume corner shooter is not changing, and that’s not the reason he likely will continue receiving minutes. If younger Bucks are providing similar value on defense while providing any value on the other end, though, Bud may opt for youth even in a tough playoff matchup. I wouldn’t disagree with such a decision, but still, Matthews will probably see his load heavily managed during the regular season so that Bud could call on him frequently come April... if he remains healthy.


Gut Check: how confident are you that Wesley Matthews will be in the playoff rotation?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    1 - Not in the rotation, at all.
    (5 votes)
  • 5%
    2 - Might play a few rotation minutes, here and there.
    (15 votes)
  • 32%
    3 - Will get some minutes, depends on the series.
    (95 votes)
  • 53%
    4 - Will be a part of the rotation, playing steady minutes.
    (154 votes)
  • 6%
    5 - Firmly in the rotation, playing heavy minutes!
    (20 votes)
289 votes total Vote Now

It seems pretty clear how the next round of voting will go, but I’ll leave this poll up a bit longer into tomorrow since I got to this Matthews piece so late in the day (mea culpa).


The 7th most important player to Milwaukee’s postseason success is...

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Grayson Allen
    (209 votes)
  • 14%
    Pat Connaughton
    (40 votes)
  • 2%
    Brook Lopez
    (7 votes)
  • 5%
    Bobby Portis
    (16 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now