Milwaukee Bucks: Sam Merrill could see an increased workload in year two

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 07 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 07 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

With the offseason now in full swing, the time has come for some tough decisions to be made. As numerous free agents potentially find themselves on the way out, the Milwaukee Bucks are looking to retool their roster.

The 2021 NBA Draft will allow them to add some depth at a position of need, but some question marks still remain with the team limited financially while having little assets. Given these circumstances, players such as Jordan Nwora, Mamadi Diakite, and Sam Merrill are looking to get their chance to improve and they could get that chance in their sophomore seasons.

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Merrill is an intriguing player on the Bucks bench. The former 60th overall pick out of Utah State showed flashes of potential throughout the regular season last year. While Merrill’s sample size is limited at the professional level, his shooting in college is certainly intriguing.

In his college years at Utah State, Merrill was a sharpshooter. He averaged 16 points in his four-year college career on .470/.420/.891 shooting splits.

Those shooting splits are impressive, to say the least, and it could be a glimpse into Merrill’s potential at the professional level. With that in mind, here is why Merrill could see an increased workload in his second professional season.

Why Sam Merrill could see an increased workload in his second year with the Milwaukee Bucks

One of the primary reasons Merrill could see an increase in his role is the question marks at the shooting guard position. A few days ago, Bryn Forbes declined his player option and has begun testing the waters in free agency. With Forbes potentially finding a new home, there is a hole in the backup shooting guard role.

As for the Bucks’ starting shooting guard, Donte DiVincenzo, some question marks remain around his status for the beginning of next season. After being listed as out for the playoffs following Game 3 of the Miami series it became clear that Donte’s foot injury was severe. Due to the unknown status of DiVincenzo, Sam Merrill could be filling in for the Bucks’ starter until his return. Even if Milwaukee finds a replacement for the shooting guard in free agency, Merrill could still be available to get more run at the NBA level.

As mentioned before, Merrill has excellent shooting ability. His scoring in college proved that he can shoot at the NBA level. Merrill specializes in shooting from 3-point territory, and that compliments head coach Mike Budenholzer’s system perfectly. With coach Bud at the helm, the Bucks have consistently ranked among the best teams in 3-point shooting. Merrill’s knowledge and off-ball movement allow him to pick his spots beyond the arc, and that could be beneficial to the Bucks. If Merrill sees an increase in his workload, he would be able to make an immediate impact from deep. While there are some parts of his game to refine, such as the ability to finish at the rim, that can be fixed with some growth and development at this level.

Coming out of the draft, Merrill was recognized as an excellent shooter with adequate defense. His defensive presence needs some refining, but lockdown defense isn’t a necessity. The Bucks have built up a core of some of the best defensive players in the league. With robust defenders such as Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez, the Bucks are arguably the best defensive team in the league.

Forbes struggled on the defensive end when he was getting time at the shooting guard, but the players around him were able to chip in and help on that end. Merrill is a better defender than Forbes, and that could be another reason that he will see an increase in his minutes. While the Bucks would like to see strides in Merrill’s defense, it isn’t something that needs to come right away. If Merrill can be a player who shoots extremely well and plays serviceable defense, he is in an excellent spot to get more run at the NBA level.

Milwaukee is in an interesting spot right now. With free agency about to kick-off, there will be some new faces coming in, but they could find reliability at the end of their bench. The young players are looking to find their role, and they could get that opportunity when the 2021-2022 season begins.

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Sam Merrill could be a reliable option this coming season, and his development could be crucial to Milwaukee’s future. If Merrill lives up to his shooting potential, he will be an integral part of Milwaukee’s offense. With question marks arising, Merrill could provide some answers for the Bucks.