Milwaukee Bucks: Sam Merrill, Jordan Nwora make G League debuts

Jan 30, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 30, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

While the Milwaukee Bucks will be searching for their sixth straight victory later Wednesday night, their pair of rookies made momentous debuts earlier in the day.

With the G League season tipping off earlier Wednesday, both Sam Merrill and Jordan Nwora, both made their debuts on the G League level after they were flex assigned to their respective affiliates last week, along with two-way player Mamadi Diakite.

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Milwaukee Bucks rookie guard Sam Merrill struggled in his first G League outing.

First up was Merrill as he and the Memphis Hustle took on the Austin Spurs in what ended up being a 119-111 loss for the Hustle.

Getting the starting nod by head coach Jason March, Merrill had his fair share of struggles as he finished with five points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field and was 0-for-6 from deep, along with three boards and three assists and was a -21 in over 31 minutes of action.

The 24-year-old was searching for his rhythm all game long, especially when letting it fly from 3-point range. The fact that Merrill was vying for touches while primarily playing with lead guards such as David Stockton and Dallas Mavericks assignee Tyrell Terry only exacerbated the rust issues he felt on the offensive end, along with struggling to get by defenders when the ball swung his way.

Defensively, Merrill held up considerably well, especially when checking against players with size down low. That may have been more of a use to overcome his athletic deficiencies when guarding the perimeter and staying with opposing ball handlers.

Needless to say, Merrill will look to put in better performances as well as continue integrating himself within the Hustle’s system for as long as his assignment with Memphis goes on during his truncated G League season.

Milwaukee Bucks rookie forward Jordan Nwora fared better in his G League debut.

Meanwhile, fellow Bucks rookie Jordan Nwora got plenty of shine with the Salt Lake City Stars, though they fell to the Erie Bayhawks in a 117-98 defeat Wednesday afternoon.

Nwora stepped right in off the bench and immediately defined the tone at which he played at on the day as he eventually finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting (3-for-5 from downtown, 3-for-4 from the free throw line), four rebounds and a steal in 23-and-a-half minutes.

The ease and effortlessness Nwora showed scoring the ball, especially from long distance, is nothing new to Bucks fans that have seen his limited NBA minutes this season.

What we haven’t seen as much as is the same ease and polish Nwora displayed in breaking defenders off the dribble, whether pulling up from mid-range and powering through into the paint and putting down soft and crafty finishes at the basket. Nwora’s size and strength certainly showed in his fearlessness putting the ball down and trying to finish through contact, which helped him get to the free throw line.

Defensively, Nwora had some interesting flashes as a weak-side defender and was great in helping to break into passing lanes to jumpstart his team on the break.

For how strong of a performance Nwora put in, though, it ended on a sour note. Late in the fourth quarter and when turning his body to close out on a Bayhawks shooter saddled in the corner, the Louisville product appeared to have turned his ankle. It was serious enough that he needed medical attention and didn’t see the last four-and-a-half minutes on the floor.

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Hopefully, we’ll hear official word on Nwora’s injury very soon and that it isn’t serious enough to derail his run on assignment with the Stars. In the meantime, Bucks two-way player Mamadi Diakite is set to make his G League debut Thursday night with the Lakeland Magic.