As the Milwaukee Bucks upgraded their wing depth with a pair of veteran additions this offseason, Sterling Brown may have to make his opportunities count in order to contend for a larger role in the team’s rotation next season.
With most of their business taken care of this offseason, save for one remaining roster spot, the Milwaukee Bucks have reloaded their roster for the 2019-20 season.
The Eastern Conference runners-up were hard at work on the opening day of free agency to retain their many free agents, with the majority of them playing critical roles in their everyday starting lineup throughout their 60-win campaign last year (and veteran guard George Hill being the lone exception to that).
What followed was a string of veteran pickups that were all designed to shore up the Bucks’ overall depth and sport a supporting cast that was on par to what they rolled out throughout last season.
It’s on the wing where the biggest alterations have come on the Bucks’ depth chart, especially in light of Malcolm Brogdon‘s departure to central division rival, the Indiana Pacers.
However, the Bucks’ new pair of veteran wings, Kyle Korver and Wes Matthews, have given the squad an added dimension and certainly much more experience and dependability on the whole than the team’s wing holdovers from the previous year.
That certainly paints a complicated picture for promising Bucks wing Sterling Brown. Entering his third year with the Bucks and the NBA as a whole, Brown has shown a variety of encouraging flashes throughout his burgeoning career.
Of course, it was his sophomore season playing under reigning NBA Coach of the Year, Mike Budenholzer, where Brown’s 3-and-D game was not only encouraged, but showed real potential.
Even as injury and racking up the occasional DNP-CD limited the SMU alum to 58 appearances last year, Brown managed to hone his three-point consistency, especially from either corner three spot, and gave a defensive edge that no other Bucks player was capable of providing off the bench (Brown was 29-of-57 from both corner spots last season, per NBA.com/stats, which made for a mark of 50.8 percent).
That as well as the injuries to now-former Bucks players, first Brogdon and then Tony Snell, helped Brown become a spot starter late into the season and early on in the Bucks’ playoff run until that came to an end following Milwaukee’s Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semifinals series.
But for as positive as Brown’s game has grown to be in an NBA setting and alongside the Bucks’ foundation, there still is something missing, as far as polish and reliability is concerned, to warrant major minutes and a regular starting role going into his third season.
The Bucks’ front office obviously sees it that way, given the additions of Korver and Matthews, and Brown was already facing tough competition for minutes with serviceable veteran wing Pat Connaughton.
With such a crowded wing crop heading into a critical campaign, and given that he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, the 24-year-old can’t really afford to suffer any lapse or setback as far as his professional future is considered.
That certainly isn’t to say that Brown won’t feature in the Bucks’ plans throughout the season as the combination of Budenholzer’s penchant to deploy a deep rotation and manage the workload of the team’s core pieces will give plenty of opportunity for Brown to shine in some capacity.
The same could go for whether we’ll see more lineup versatility, such as small-ball units, from the Bucks over the course of next season, given they have recharged their backcourt and wing depth.
But without considerable improvements on Brown’s part, specifically in terms of extending his shooting range and reining in aggressive defensive instincts just a bit, more proven options literally wait in the wings.