Milwaukee Bucks: Who will step up with injuries to wing rotation?

Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have taken some early hits to their wing rotation, but luckily, they have several players that can step up.

Shoring up their depth was a priority for the Milwaukee Bucks this offseason, and they did just that with their remodeled roster.

Seven games into the season, head coach Mike Budenholzer has not been shy about mixing up the rotation with all of the new additions to see who fits where. Now, he will have to continue that creativity as several players in the wing rotation have been sidelined with various injuries.

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The first was Torrey Craig, who will be out for at least the remainder of Milwaukee’s homestand after he underwent surgery to repair a nasal fracture earlier last week. Craig had been fighting for positioning in the rotation before the injury, and now, he will have to continue that push when he returns to form.

In addition to Craig, Milwaukee’s promising rookie Sam Merrill will also be out for an undisclosed amount of time after he suffered a sprained ankle in the team’s blowout win against the Chicago Bulls last Friday.

Lastly, Pat Connaughton missed Monday’s win against the Detroit Pistons with a groin strain suffered in practice, and there is no set in stone answer to when he will return. While Connaughton was the only member of the three in the primary rotation, these injuries take out a considerable portion of Milwaukee’s wing depth.

Who will Mike Budenholzr call on to step up in the Milwaukee Bucks’ wing rotation?

While Khris Middelton and Donte DiVincenzo will continue to see the most minutes on the wing, these circumstances give Mike Budenholzer the chance to dig deep into his bench.

Bud has done this early on, as Thanasis Antetokounmpo has seen some extended minutes on a nightly basis. The 28-year-old has logged double-digit minutes in four out of his six appearances on the season, as Budenholzer continues to display a newfound sense of faith in him. Understandably so as Thanasis provides a spontaneous burst of energy whenever he takes the court, something we have seen early in the season.

Someone else who got a chance was Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee’s other rookie that the Bucks are very high on. Up until Monday night, Nwora’s minutes came late in games with little value, but he showed potential that had some calling for him to be featured more in the rotation. Budenholzer obliged by sending the rookie into the game in the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons, where he played eight meaningful minutes.

Although he logged just two points on 1-of-2 shooting from the field, Nwora is still someone who could carve out a role for himself in this stretch. The 3-point prowess that Nwora possesses is why the Milwaukee Bucks were thrilled to see him still on the board at 45th overall when they selected him, and he is undoubtedly someone that can help them win now.

The player who will likely see the most run, however, is Bryn Forbes. The newcomer has seen an increase in minutes throughout the past two contests, and he has taken advantage. In that span, Forbes averaged 14 points while shooting 53.4 percent from the field, and 58.4 percent from behind the arc, providing a dynamic spark off the bench offensively. The sharpshooter has come to life after struggling to find a rhythm to start the season, and he is making a name for himself in Milwaukee relatively quickly.

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While there is no specific timetable for the injuries suffered to Craig, Merrill, or Connaughton, the Milwaukee Bucks have several pieces that can help them stay afloat in the meantime.