Milwaukee Bucks: Time is running out for D.J. Wilson to make an impact

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 04: (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 04: (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

In his third year with the Milwaukee Bucks, D.J. Wilson has yet to establish himself in the rotation and time may be running out for him to leave his mark.

With Donte DiVincenzo thriving, and another first round draft pick coming up on the horizon courtesy of the Indiana Pacers, it would be all too easy to forget about the other two recent Milwaukee Bucks draft picks who remain on rookie scale contracts.

Sterling Brown‘s future with the team is obviously uncertain following a year of regression and with restricted free agency around the corner, but the picture is likely just as murky for Brown’s draft mate D.J. Wilson.

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Wilson was selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, making him Milwaukee’s most recent first round selection outside of DiVincenzo.

Unfortunately, Wilson’s play on the court has yet to truly resemble anything reminiscent of the performance levels expected of a near lottery pick, in spite of a notable burst of positive play midway through the 2018-19 season.

With an injury to Ersan Ilyasova, Wilson had an opportunity to soak up meaningful minutes, and demonstrating excellent defensive instincts and versatility, seemed to have seized it with both hands. Of course, Wilson’s performance level didn’t hold up. Poor shooting has been a notable obstacle in his path to minutes, making just 25.5 percent of his triples so far in 2019-20, while his defense didn’t hold up to his previous high standards when afforded opportunity this season either.

The addition of Robin Lopez in the offseason certainly closed one path to minutes for Wilson, but even with Ilyasova enduring an inconsistent season, the Bucks opted to bring in Marvin Williams as a free agent for the final stretch rather than face the possibility of needing to rely on Wilson.

With just 280 minutes logged with the Bucks for the campaign, Wilson has effectively been out of the rotation for the entirety of the year, and given Milwaukee’s roster and their goals, that doesn’t look like a situation that’s set to change any time soon.

Wilson will be eligible for an extension in the offseason, although it seems unthinkable that Milwaukee would even give that prospect a moment’s consideration.

With a potential salary crunch on the way in the NBA due to the loss of income caused by the current hiatus, the fact that Wilson is owed $4.5 million for next season will likely be something of a headache for a luxury tax bound Milwaukee too.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine Wilson getting too much more opportunity to change opinions and secure a longer term stay in Milwaukee. If anything, a more likely scenario may well be the Bucks seeking out a trade partner that could be prepared to take a flyer on Wilson next season, and in the process reducing the bill the Bucks will be facing and perhaps freeing up a roster spot for a player who may be better equipped to contribute.

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It’s undoubtedly unfortunate how Wilson’s first three years in the NBA have played out, but as things stand it seems like the cards are stacked against him when it comes to a potential longer term future in Milwaukee.