3 things to watch as Milwaukee Bucks open 2022 vs New Orleans Pelicans

Dec 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: DeMarcus Cousins. New Orleans Pelicans: Devonte Graham
Dec 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Can DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews continue strong play for Milwaukee Bucks ahead of their guarantee date?

As the calendar turns over to the new year, that also means we’re less than a week away until the Bucks will need to decide on whether or not to guarantee the contracts for DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews.

Both players were signed around the same time and were initially expected to fill in gaps in the rotation, but have now made themselves staples in the rotation. Specifically, with Matthews, he has closed multiple games with the big three and has made it clear he should be retained for the remainder of the season.

The Bucks have struggled to find consistent minutes from wing players off the bench but Matthews has been a breath of fresh air in that regard. He’s shooting over 48 percent from 3 and playing very solid defense, so there should be no mystery as to if I think he should be retained.

As for Cousins, it’s slightly more complicated, but also not really. I wrote earlier in December about whether Cousins’ initial performance had been enough to warrant keeping him past January 7th (the guarantee date), but since then things have taken off.

He shouldn’t be relied on for heavy minutes, but he has success as a bench big that can thrive against certain matchups. He hasn’t shot the 3 well at all, but he can bully his way through fellow reserve bigs and, to my surprise, has held up well on defense.

If it were up to me, I’d hold onto Cousins because, well, there’s not much else out there right now. If you go bargain bin hunting again, it’s unlikely you come away with a player who will be as impactful as Cousins. Also, the bench big role doesn’t matter if Brook Lopez doesn’t return or isn’t himself when he does.

Next. 3 things for Milwaukee Bucks fans to look forward to in 2022. dark

For as much as I raved about the Bucks getting slightly younger in the offseason, it has been the two veterans who have come in and provided a big spark for the Bucks midway through the season.