Milwaukee Bucks: Wesley Matthews’ season of shooting extremes

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 22: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 22: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Wesley Matthews has endured a rollercoaster season with the Milwaukee Bucks so far as his shooting has fluctuated drastically through his first 38 games.

Through the first half of the season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Wesley Matthews has slotted in seamlessly with the team’s league-best defense, and been a consistent starter for a team that holds a formidable 35-6 record to date.

When Matthews opted to sign a veteran minimum deal to return home to Wisconsin in the summer, there was hope that both of those elements could be something the 33-year-old offered the Bucks, but it wasn’t flagged up as the primary tool which Matthews would likely provide the team.

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Instead, after a postseason run when missing good looks from three-point range proved fatal in Milwaukee’s Conference Finals exit, a proven catch-and-shoot specialist such as Matthews appeared to be an ideal addition, particularly in the aftermath of Malcolm Brogdon‘s departure.

A career 38 percent three-point shooter, the fact that Matthews is at 35.6 percent from deep so far this season is certainly disappointing in its own right, particularly given that logic suggests the talent around Matthews should give him higher quality looks than he’s seen at any previous point in his career.

More troubling, though, is just how quickly and sharply Matthews’ shooting has fallen off of late. It isn’t that long ago that Matthews was riding high at above 40 percent from deep, but a truly horrid stretch of late has given the Bucks a troubling glimpse of the kind of variance that hurt them with other shooters in the playoffs last year.

Matthews has made just a miserable 20 percent of his three-point attempts over the Bucks’ last 10 games. Perhaps even more troubling is that over the course of the season, Matthews’ catch-and-shoot three-point shooting has been a long way below the standards he set last season.

Matthews has made just 35.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot triples, dipping comfortably below his 40.1 percent success rate on those shots last year, but also tracking for what will easily be his lowest percentage on those shot attempts since the stat started being tracked back in 2013-14.

Another key piece of the Matthews’ story so far this season has been the quite remarkable discrepancy between the 33-year-old’s play at home versus on the road.

This was a topic I explored earlier in the season, but by no means is it a trend that has eased up in the time since. There can be no complaints about Matthews’ 41.4 percent on 5.2 three-point attempts per game at Fiserv Forum, but that only accounts for half of his total games played so far this season.

The old adage is that role players play better at home, and with Matthews making just 26.6 percent of his 3.4 three-point attempts per game on the road, it’s impossible to dispute it in this case at present.

That represents something of a red flag, as Matthews and the remainder of the Bucks’ role players simply won’t be able to be road no-shows if Milwaukee are to achieve their aims in the playoffs this year.

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The inconsistency in Matthews’ shooting is troubling, but it may be the one constant trend with his shooting this year that leaves even greater cause for concern.