Milwaukee Bucks: Can D.J. Wilson improve on finishing at the basket?

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 1 - D.J. Wilson #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks goes to the basket against the Brooklyn Nets on April 1, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 1 - D.J. Wilson #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks goes to the basket against the Brooklyn Nets on April 1, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Coming off a breakout sophomore season with the Milwaukee Bucks, third-year forward D.J. Wilson will be eager to improve upon his blossoming skill set, with looking to capitalize on opportunities at the rim being a point of emphasis.

Throughout the Milwaukee Bucks’ sterling 2018-19 regular season campaign, D.J. Wilson brightened his future in a way very few Bucks fans thought was possible.

The arrival of reigning NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer and his coaching staff proved to be pivotal in unlocking Wilson’s development after what was essentially a redshirt rookie campaign.

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But that isn’t to disregard the combination of size, physical tools, athleticism and raw skills that Wilson brandished upon making the jump to the NBA, which led to the Bucks tabbing him with the 17th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

It turns out the general outline of skills and attributes Wilson possessed was a solid foundation for Budenholzer and co. to work with and in turn, the former Wolverine had a necessary pathway to not only earn rotation minutes, but make a decent impact for a squad that was as successful as they were for the majority of last season.

Now Wilson faces the challenge of having to follow up his sophomore surprise and for how many strides he has made, especially on the defensive end, some key hurdles remain in his personal development.

Achieving some level of three-point consistency is crucial for Wilson to be able to stretch the floor effectively and provide a spark for a three-point happy team like the Bucks will continue to be under Coach Bud. But it’s inside the arc where Wilson must improve the most to round out his modern day, hybrid forward skill set.

Wilson has made steady progress in improving on his frame to take on the brunt of imposing big men around the league. Nowhere does Wilson’s lack of physicality show up more than when looking to capitalize on finishing chances around the basket, though.

The Sacramento native compiled a 46.8 two-point percentage on his 124 attempts taken inside the three-point line, the majority of those coming straight at the cup. On such opportunities, Wilson managed to connect on 56.1 percent of his 66 attempts taken within the restricted area, per NBA.com/stats.

Even with Wilson garnering just a few more chances from long range, judging by his 50.6 three-point attempt rate, falling below the standard of putting down such high-percentage shots is quite the obstacle to overcome at this stage. That’s even without considering the fact that Wilson acted as a roll man in 22 percent of his offensive possessions and there’s nowhere to go but up, given that Wilson ranked in the 14th percentile of players around the league in those situations last season.

A subplot to Wilson’s finishing struggles is his efficiency at the free throw line as he went 23-of-47 from the charity stripe, good for 55.3 percent (Wilson is 16-of-20 from the foul line over his various assignment with the Herd over the last two years).

The 23-year-old’s raw physical development isn’t something that can easily be mastered and being deployed as a small-ball center on occasion last season only illuminated how much further he has to go in providing a physical presence in those kind of scenarios, despite those incremental improvements.

Wilson’s complementary skill set and supporting role will only lead to him being an opportunistic scorer, rather than one that can create his own scoring attempts at will. With that, being able to be a functional scorer within a Bucks system that creates high-percentage scoring opportunities at such a high rate on a nightly basis is a must for Wilson.

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Being able to not only let it fly, but to find the bottom of the net at a dangerous percentage is significant in standing as a stretch forward over time. But there’s no use in overlooking how much Wilson can afford to improve on his touch at or around the basket.