Milwaukee Bucks: Frank Mason III could be of value beyond this season

DENVER, CO - MARCH 09: (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 09: (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

Frank Mason III stood out as one of the best two-way players this season with the Milwaukee Bucks, but he could be of value as they search for high-value deals beyond the 2019-20 season.

Before the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended, Milwaukee Bucks two-way player Frank Mason III was at the peak of his powers.

Mason had stood as a leading focal point for the Bucks’ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, all season long, but his level of play and overall production rose to new heights throughout the month of February as he averaged an astounding 29.8 points per game on .558/.429/.850 shooting splits, along with 4.7 assists. That led to the former Jayhawk being named G League Player of the Month for February.

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It was the true culmination of Mason’s rejuvenation where his blend of highly efficient shotmaking and fearless attacking of the basket led to him standing as the G League’s leading scorer for the 19-20 season at 26.4 points on a 65.9 true shooting percentage, along with 5.0 assists through his 23 appearances.

Herd head coach Chase Buford, whose second-year option was recently picked up by the organization, was asked about that by Oshkosh Northwestern’s Jerell Rushin:

"“Probably just igniting that fire in him where he knows that’s where he wants to be. He came back down after a little injury and time with them. That month of February was just a killer. He was the best player in the league, by far. I think his aggressive mindset, when he just was willing to embrace the fact that, ‘Yeah, I might get knocked down a few times, but if I drive to the basket no one’s going to stop me. No one’s going to stay in front of me. Finish and draw fouls.’ I think when he lost that regard for anything and just started attacking, he became an entire different animal.”"

Whether Mason could have eventually been named a finalist for the G League MVP award, we’ll never know with the premature ending to the season. But the combination of his success and the Herd’s league-leading record would have been key points in his favor, no doubt.

For all his success in the G League this season, though, Mason had a tough time cracking through in the Bucks’ rotation when sent up to Milwaukee as part of his two-way deal. That was for good reason, given Milwaukee’s overwhelming success throughout the year and the defined rotation built under head coach Mike Budenholzer, all of which led to Mason largely being on hand for emergency duties.

While reps had been hard to come by, Mason’s sixth appearance was a memorable and made up a vast majority of his very limited NBA minutes this year in what stands as their most recent game, a 109-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Getting plenty of run with multiple core Bucks players resting, Mason’s performance was surely a mixed one where he finished with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting (1-for-6 from deep), five assists, three turnovers and a steal in over 29-and-a-half minutes off the bench.

As Mason looks forward to having a chance to improve on that outing with the Bucks, should the season pick back up in the foreseeable future, the question of his future in Milwaukee stands as an underlying question in what is obviously a big summer for the club.

We can only project and speculate just how the coronavrius pandemic and season stoppage will affect teams financially, but the Bucks stand to be among the biggest affected by a declining salary cap as my co-site expert Adam McGee recently detailed.

And with as many as five roster spots to fill whenever this offseason officially kicks on, the Bucks will surely be in the market for high-value deals to fill out their depth to maintain this championship-contending window. That’s where Mason could come in handy for the Bucks’ front office helmed by general manager Jon Horst.

Once two-way deals are up, those players can hit restricted free agency, provided that their NBA team doles out a qualifying offer before the NBA calendar turns over in the offseason, or they appeared on the active/inactive for 15 or more days the previous season, per this handy free agency explainer at

Based on his stellar 19-20 season in the G League and his familiarity with the team’s system and in the organization, the Bucks may very well think about handing out that qualifying offer, in the event that Mason may catch the eye of opposing teams. Where it gets interesting is whether the Bucks would entertain bringing Mason back on a standard NBA contract where he would qualify for the NBA minimum, given his three years of NBA experience to this point.

That may be a harder sell, given that Mason’s two years in Sacramento increasingly went wayward and he’s been given little run while in Milwaukee to this point.

However, the team’s guard depth behind just Eric Bledsoe and George Hill will have to be addressed at some point in the coming months and they could believe Mason’s development on the G League level may lead to them viewing the former Naismith Player of the Year as their third guard full-time.

Of course, the Bucks could easily go ahead and select a point guard or promising lead ball handler through the draft this year, making this all null and void.

But the topic of being familiar with the Bucks’ system and knowing what’s expected of him is a big thing in Mason’s favor with so much uncertainty at this point in time. The Bucks have sought to maintain their continuity during this window and that will be heavily leaned on in the event that the season continues and with whatever the NBA calendar looks like beyond this year.

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Mason’s accomplishments this season have helped him to iron out deficiencies since entering the NBA and it’s clear he’s a talented player when given the opportunity on some level. Whether the Bucks believe enough in his development and overall abilities to extend his stint in Milwaukee, we’ll soon find out.