Milwaukee Bucks: Analyzing the signing of guard Tremont Waters

May 12, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t quite done tinkering with their roster, adding a player with an eye for the future. On Tuesday night, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Bucks signed guard Tremont Waters to a training camp contract.

Waters is a 23-year-old point guard who has spent his short NBA career to this point with the Boston Celtics. Waters was drafted in the second round, 51st overall by the Celtics in the 2019 NBA Draft after spending two years in college at LSU. He’s played in a total of 37 NBA regular-season games at this point in his career and has even started four!

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At first glance, a player like Waters would seem like a bit of a puzzling addition for the Bucks, but there is some reason as to why they’d make a move like this for Waters as opposed to bringing in a more veteran player (for now).

Although he may not impact the active roster right away (or at any point), there’s no harm in bringing a younger player like Waters into camp and see what he can bring as a developmental player. Worst case scenario, they cut Waters during camp and lose nothing from trying him out. But let’s look at this from the angle that Waters impresses during camp and the Bucks want to keep him around. So, what can he do for the Bucks?

What the reported Tremont Waters signing can bring to the Milwaukee Bucks

No offense to Waters, but his NBA numbers to this point are really nothing to get excited about. In his 37 regular-season games, Waters has averaged 3.8 points, 2.1 assists, and shot 30.6 percent from 3-point range. But this obviously doesn’t give the full scope of Waters’ skillset.

For starters, Waters shot an abysmal 16.7 percent from deep on 24 attempts as a rookie. Obviously, a very small sample, and if he made even five more, his percentage would climb to 33.3 percent. But as a rookie, Waters spent most of his time with the Celtics’ G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, and did he ever make the most of his time there.

In his lone G League season so far, Waters won Rookie of the Year in 2019-20 and finished third in MVP voting (behind the Wisconsin Herd’s Jaylen Adams and Frank Mason III). In 36 games for the Red Claws, Waters averaged 18 points, 7.2 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He shot nearly 36 percent from 3 on seven attempts a night and had a 56.5 percent true shooting. His game can be very flashy and he put together a solid highlight reel with the Red Claws. I mean, look at some of these passes and dribble moves.

Being an undersized guard at 5’10” and 175 pounds, Waters is going to struggle defensively, but on offense, he uses his strong handle to create space for himself on midrange jumpers and stepback triples. He’s a crafty pick and roll ball handler that does a good job of finding open space for passes to the big.

When he’s really going, he’s a very fun player to watch, and that was on full display in his best NBA game to date. He posted a career-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists, and two steals in a game against the New York Knicks on May 16th, 2021.

As for how he fits with the Bucks, it’s most likely that if he makes the team, it would be on a two-way contract, and would spend a lot of time with the Herd this season. It’s a pretty solid flier to take on someone who has the offensive game waters possesses, but I don’t think he will top out as much more than a really good G League player but will struggle to find consistent minutes at the NBA level.

It does bring to mind the idea of having a younger point guard on the roster as the Bucks have only drafted two point guards since 2009 (Brandon Jennings and Malcolm Brogdon). This isn’t to say they need a point guard, but having a young (and cheap) point guard would remove the need to pay a 35-year-old George Hill around $4 million per season. Something to look ahead to for the 2022 NBA Draft where the Bucks should have their own first-round pick.

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Waters will be one of the more interesting names to watch as we inch closer to training camp later in September.