Milwaukee Bucks: Wesley Matthews adjusted brilliantly to lower usage role

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Wesley Matthews had to get used to a very different role with the Milwaukee Bucks this season, and he embraced it to produce positive results.

When Wesley Matthews decided to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks last summer, the motivations for his decision were clear.

A deal with the Bucks allowed Matthews to finally return home, while also giving him the chance to latch on with a contender and have a real chance of picking up the championship ring that has eluded him to this point in his career.

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That move meant that Matthews was also going to have to make notable sacrifices to maximize his contributions. Beyond accepting the lowest value full season contract of his career since his rookie season back in 2009-10, the former Marquette standout was also required to accept a role that would need him to a lot less than the ball than he ever previously has in the NBA.

Between Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and George Hill, the Bucks have no shortage of players to handle, create, and put shots up.

Matthews has long held a reputation as a 3-and-D specialist, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to him having been an ultra low-usage, Tony Snell-style role player.

As he has demonstrated at previous stops around the NBA, Matthews can create shots for himself off the dribble, is capable of sporadically bringing the ball up the floor or picking out passes to teammates. Given the options at Milwaukee’s disposal, there’s simply no need for him to do that as a Buck, though.

Still, there are countless examples of players around the NBA over the years who have been unable to make that particular adjustment. Matthews’ selfless play so far this season has proven he’s not one of them.

There have been some ups and downs with Matthews’ performance, particularly when it comes to the disparity between his play at home versus on the road at times, but what can’t be disputed is the fact that the veteran has come in and slotted into the template of what the Bucks wanted him to be for their team.

Averaging 4.5 three-point attempts per game, just under 70 percent of Matthews’ shot attempts have come from behind the arc. With 57.2 percent of those coming from catch-and-shoot looks, per, it’s fair to say he’s fully embraced being an off-ball player.

That has coincided with Matthews’ 12.5 usage percentage, which is by far the lowest mark of his career in that category. In fact, the closest Matthews has come to that for a full season was all the way back in his rookie campaign, where he still registered a significantly higher 16.4 percent usage.

Perhaps even more impressive for the Bucks, though, is that on the occasions when Matthews does have the ball and is tasked with making a play, he’s been exceptionally efficient. The 33-year-old’s 2.22 assist to turnover ratio trails only George Hill among Bucks’ players who’ve been on the roster all season, while also doubling as the second best mark of Matthews’ career when it comes to efficient playmaking.

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Matthews was never going to replace everything that Malcolm Brogdon brought to the Bucks, but by delivering the best version of what he has to offer, the Wisconsin native has allowed the team to kick on beyond the levels they reached 12 months ago.