The Milwaukee Bucks must keep Wesley Matthews, DeMarcus Cousins

Dec 23, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

With a combination of injuries, illnesses, and players being sent to the health and safety protocols, the Milwaukee Bucks needed some reinforcements. So, the front office signed two veterans through non-guaranteed deals recently to add extra bodies to the rotation in DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews. After a stretch of games, it seems safe to say that both have been great pickups for the champs.

How DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews have helped the Milwaukee Bucks persevere through a turbulent start

Cousins was brought in shortly before it was announced that starting center Brook Lopez would be undergoing back surgery after playing in just one game this season. With Bobby Portis sliding into the starting five, the team needed a quality backup, and Cousins was the perfect option as he sought out another shot in the NBA. Through his first 14 games, Cousins has averaged 8.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 16.8 minutes per contest. Those numbers are even better over his past six games, averaging 14.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 22 minutes. He has been precisely what the doctor ordered, providing the Bucks with scoring, rebounding, and toughness as they look to stay afloat without their typical man in the middle available.

Matthews has contributed much of the same on the wing as he has turned out to be a welcoming surprise in his return to the Bucks. Offensively, the veteran has been stellar in the second unit by averaging 6.2 points while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and 48.1 percent from behind the arc in nine appearances to this point. His contributions offensively have been impactful, especially in Milwaukee’s Christmas Day victory over the Boston Celtics, where Matthews knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to give the Bucks a lead and secure the win. Matthews also had a 16-point effort a few games prior as the shorthanded Bucks held off the Houston Rockets. Though the team will not be dependent on his scoring, it is great to know he is capable of chipping in on that side of the ball when called upon.

In addition to what he has brought offensively, Matthews has helped tremendously defensively as well. The veteran swingman has provided versatility on that side of the basketball for the champs, giving them another swiss army knife that can defend multiple positions when asked. Lineups that include Matthews next to players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Pat Connaughton have been formidable this season due to his defensive prowess. Matthews is someone that coach Mike Budenholzer can put on the opposing team’s best wing defensively to try and make things as difficult as possible for them. The results speak for themselves as Matthews is currently holding opponents to 17-of-45 (37.8 percent) from the field when he is the closest defender, according to

Why the Milwaukee Bucks should keep DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews beyond their guarantee dates

Due to both players being on non-guaranteed deals, the Bucks have until January 7 to decide if they will keep Cousins and Matthews around. Given how fantastic both have played to this point with the Bucks, it would be head-scratching to see either walk out the door once that date arrives. Both players have proven to be pivotal parts of the rotation during their brief time with the Bucks thus far, and they could continue to be key contributors as the season goes on.

With Cousins, the uncertainty surrounding Lopez is enough of a reason to keep him around beyond his guarantee date. Although there is reportedly optimism within the organization that Lopez may be back at some point this season, that is still likely far down the line. If Lopez does return, Boogie would serve as a quality insurance policy at the center position. On the other hand, if the optimism within the Bucks does not come to fruition and Lopez does not return, having Cousins still on the roster would be a solid option to have, especially during the postseason.

Matthews is also someone that could easily have a long-term role on this team due to what he is capable of bringing on both sides of the ball. He will knock down a few 3-pointers a game for the Bucks while providing reputable defense on the other end. Teams can never have enough of that once the playoffs roll around. Having a player like Matthews that the Bucks can comfortably put on opposing stars in the postseason would be a luxury. Some have made the comparison that he could be this season’s P.J. Tucker for the Bucks, and he has looked the part over these nine games. He is an immediate upgrade over both Semi Ojeleye and Rodney Hood, who the Bucks brought in during free agency, having already leaped them in the rotation.

Next. Assessing Bleacher Report’s Brook Lopez trade for Milwaukee Bucks. dark

Both Cousins and Matthews have been sensational pickups for the Bucks, and it should not be a hard decision to keep them around.