Milwaukee Bucks: Could Wesley Matthews be an X-factor?

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

With their championship aspirations high, could Wesley Matthews be an X-factor in the resumed season for the league-best Milwaukee Bucks?

In his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Wesley Matthews had big shoes to fill after the departure of former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon. Although the 33-year-old Matthews may not have had the same statistical impact as Brogdon, he has fit right in with this new group.

Matthews has seen a minimized role with the Bucks compared to his past ventures but still played a significant part in their success. The guard’s ability to play stellar basketball on the defensive end of the floor created more opportunities for Milwaukee and could make Matthews an X-factor when play resumes next month.

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On the defensive end, Matthews was an underrated part of Milwaukee’s success this season. Not only was he a solid perimeter defender that could guard multiple positions, but he was also always capable of taking on the biggest challenges.

In games against both the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers this season, Matthews has taken the predominant assignment of guarding Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James. This defensive capability has helped the Bucks significantly on a nightly basis and could be a major factor in the upcoming resumption of play.

Wesley Matthews’ defensive fit and versatility could make him a key difference maker in the Milwaukee Bucks’ postseason run.

Matthews’ ability to defend the opposing team’s top player took significant pressure off of other top-tier defenders such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe. The guard’s contributions certainly helped Milwaukee’s league-best defensive rating, and the team will need him to continue doing so when the NBA resumes.

Defensively, Matthews is an essential piece for the Bucks. Offensively, his role is minimal, arguably the smallest of his career. As Milwaukee’s starting shooting guard, Matthews averaged a career-low 7.5 points per game this season, which many could point out as a significant flaw for a team looking to win now.

However, with so many dominant pieces on offense surrounding him, Matthews does not need to come out and be 2013-14 Wesley Matthews in order for the Bucks to succeed. Playing next to an MVP in Antetokounmpo and All-Star in Khris Middleton has taken the ball out of the guard’s hands more, making Matthews all the more deadly and efficient when the ball does find him.

The 13-year NBA veteran averaged a career-low 6.5 field goal attempts this season, which led to his scarce scoring season. Still, with the ball taken out of his hands more, Matthews scored efficiently when given a chance.

Having taken a majority of his shots from behind the arc, Matthews averaged 36.5 percent from 3-point territory for Milwaukee this season. Although that number is down from the past few seasons, it could benefit the Bucks significantly if he could come firing straight out of the gate when the season resumes. Although an offensive spurt from Matthews would help Milwaukee, it would not be essential.

If Matthews’ season resumes next month with him struggling offensively, the Bucks have such a plethora of talent on offense that it may not hinder them drastically. However, if he struggles defensively, it would pose a significant problem for Milwaukee in top-tier matchups.

Because of his ability to guard stars and take the pressure off of the rest of Milwaukee’s defense, Matthews could be an X-factor on the defensive side of the ball.

Although Eric Bledsoe’s ability to perform in the postseason remains the biggest X-factor of them all, the Bucks have George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo as potential insurance if history repeats itself. What the team does not have is another versatile defender such as Matthews that can get thrown at LeBron or Kawhi and do a sufficient job.

Next. Donte DiVincenzo could be postseason secret weapon. dark

The Milwaukee Bucks will face their share of challenges in their quest for a title when the season resumes, but if Matthews can pick up where he left off defensively, it will help significantly.