Assessing the Milwaukee Bucks’ biggest needs before 2022 trade deadline

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 22 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 22 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye, Houston Rockets: Christian Wood
Dec 22, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022 NBA Trade Deadline is just over a month away, and many have been wondering if the Milwaukee Bucks will be active on the market.

Last season, it was clear that they had their sights locked on acquiring P.J. Tucker. The Bucks had interest in him before the season started, and after months of rumors, they finally went and got him just before the deadline. This season, there is no potential candidate like that, at least not one that has been made as public as Tucker was. They have been incredibly quiet on the trade market, largely because they have already made two impactful roster moves by signing DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews to non-guaranteed deals this season. Tie that in with their limited financial flexibility and shortage of desirable assets, and the Bucks are in a tough position when trying to make any trades to bulk up the roster.

Although the Bucks will not be making any sizeable moves before February 15 rolls around, there are some smaller-scale moves that could be impactful. Former Executive of the Year Jon Horst has proven to be one of the best in the business for the defending world champions, having proven to have quite the eye for talent over the years. Despite the lack of assets, Horst always seems to find a way to get the job done. With that said, let us take a look at a few areas that the Bucks might try to bolster before the deadline next month to improve their chances of repeating as NBA champs.

The Milwaukee Bucks should improve their bench before the NBA Trade Deadline

Arguably Milwaukee’s weakest attribute this season has been their second unit, currently ranking 27th in scoring,19th in rebounds, and 29th in assists per game. To be fair, the bench was bound to struggle to some degree after the Bucks promoted Bobby Portis, who earned several votes in last season’s Sixth Man of the Year race, into the starting five following Brook Lopez’s back surgery. He was a key cog in that second unit last year, and the others in the bench mob have failed to step up in his absence.

After being signed during free agency, two bench pieces that have been immensely disappointing this season are Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye. Hood carved out a role in this league thanks to his prolific ability to score the basketball, but he has not been the same after being plagued by injuries over the past few seasons. The swingman is currently averaging a career-low 3.3 points per game on abysmal efficiency.

As for Ojeleye, the Bucks never expected him to score the ball too much, but the potential was there for him to be a passable shooter in the system. That has not been the case as the forward is shooting just 22.2 percent from the floor and 21.6 percent from deep this year to score 3.2 points per game. When the Bucks are relatively healthy, both players will not be in coach Budenholzer’s rotation. Though they both make around the league minimum, making it hard to trade them, they could be useful salary filler in a potential trade.

Jordan Nwora is also an interesting player because he could be the clear-cut answer to solving the second unit scoring issues for the Bucks. The second-year forward is undoubtedly a very talented scorer, but he struggles to do other things when he is on the floor, such as control the ball, hold up defensively, and get his teammates more involved. For a 23-year-old second round pick that has been in and out of the rotation this season, issues like this are not uncommon.

Yet, when he does play, there are oftentimes incredible glimpses of potential, especially recently, as Nwora has been fantastic over his last six appearances by averaging 17.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. Some will argue that potential like this is why Nwora is worth keeping, but given that he is arguably Milwaukee’s most desirable trade asset, they may have to consider moving him for a second-unit player that could help them win now.