Has Rodney Hood slowly raised his trade value for the Milwaukee Bucks?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a statement win against the best basketball club in the league in the Golden State Warriors. It was a total team effort more than anything else, but with the many players who raised eyebrows in that game, it was Rodney Hood and his quality outing that was eventually lost in the mix. Though his final stat line of three points and two assists was relatively pedestrian, it was what didn’t show up on the stat sheet that set him apart.

When Hood signed with the defending champs, many pegged it as a low-risk, high-reward move that could potentially afford the Bucks a wily veteran off the bench capable of catching fire in a hurry. As most in the Bucks fiefdom already know by now, things didn’t exactly pan out that way. Hood put in an extremely unsatisfactory 15 games to start his Bucks tenure where he posted norms of 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game on 34 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from the deep. Consequently, he saw a litany of DNP-CDs in his first two months with the team as his playing time was taken over by the likes of Jordan Nwora and Semi Ojeleye.

However, if the past few games are any indication, it seems like this trend is all but over at this point in the season. Lately, it’s been more about his competent and versatile defense coupled with his movement off the ball, both of which have made him a net positive in his few minutes with the Bucks.

Here’s a quick look at Hood’s past few games and what this sudden resurgence can mean for the win-now Bucks moving forward.

Is Rodney Hood slowly putting it together for the Milwaukee Bucks?

In his last 10 games, the 29-year-old is averaging the same 3.3 points per game, but this time on a more respectable 36 percent from behind the 3-point line. That three percent jump is negligible on paper but can make all the difference in the team’s spacing once opposing defenders have to afford him more respect and closeout to the 3-point line the closer he gets to shooting league average from distance.

His gravity before taking shots is one thing, but his ability to make the opposition pay is another. Tracking data on NBA.com/stats says he’s hitting his catch-and-shoot attempts from deep — which make up exactly half of his shot diet — at a 46.6 shooting clip. He’s also shooting 44.4 percent on shots classified as “open” or when the defender is four to six feet away.

Though his overall production still looks rather middling, he’s also now doing this with exceedingly serviceable performances on the defensive end. This is most obvious when it comes to on-ball scenarios. Per NBA.com/stats matchup data sorted by position, Hood has held opposing guards to 42-of-92 shooting when he’s the closest defender.

As the closest defender, Hood has held the likes of Anthony Edwards and RJ Hampton to 1-of-5 shooting or 20 percent field goal efficiency apiece. He’s also held offensive players like OG Anunoby and Dejounte Murray to just 1-of-3 shooting or 33.3 percent efficiency in his limited minutes.

Much of this has to do with the effort he puts in, but the other half also comes from his size. You can’t teach a 6-foot-8 frame, and though his wingspan is around the same length, he’s able to make use of these physical tools quite well when going one-on-one against offensive players.

It’s clear having more time to acclimatize to his new teammates and system have made all the difference for the wily swingman. What wasn’t expected though, is just how much this has helped the team. The Bucks have been outscoring the opposition by a solid net plus-5.0 in the 121 minutes they’ve played with Hood on the floor in the past 10 games.

In those minutes, the team has also registered the second-best defensive rating, giving up just 99.2 points per 100 possessions—a mark that would be the best defensive rating in the league.

Fans should temper expectations, but Hood’s recent play has been promising for the Milwaukee Bucks

Given the player he once was earlier on in his career, it was always something of a given that Hood would shake off his early-season struggles eventually and find a way to contribute to his new team.

This is not to say that Hood is suddenly back to his former self. Much earlier on in his career, Hood was a legitimate shot-creating threat on the offensive end and an extremely competent defender on the other. This version of Hood is still a far cry from his former self; he’s evidently a step slower, while his previously-automatic jumpers are now falling with less regularity.

However, he’s shown that he can hold defensive matchups that require a bit more size with remarkable finesse, given his injury history. He’s no P.J. Tucker, but he also does afford the Bucks a bit of versatility and switchability in limited minutes while managing to hold his own against most offensive guards and forwards.

At the same time, one could not help but wonder if Hood still has an extra gear or two tucked away somewhere. He was, after all, a 17 point per game type of scorer earlier on in his NBA career. He certainly could up his shooting percentages a bit more while gaining more confidence in the few shot-creating and isolation opportunities he’s afforded in his limited playing time. His “wide open” 3-pointers are also hitting their mark just 31.7 percent of the time.

In any event, his slight resurgence could also not come at a better time. This late into the season, the Bucks are looking hobbled after months of being ravaged by injury, whether physical strain or the league’s health and safety protocol. The question now is this: Does this make him a better trade chip, or does it make him a mainstay for a team that’s demonstrated its need for injury insurance?

Hood could be the missing piece to add more stock to a trade package for Milwaukee to land another big man, or perhaps a more stout wing defender to play the role that Tucker did a year ago for the Milwaukee Bucks en route to a title.

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It remains to be seen how long his tenure in Wisconsin will last. But whether he’s kept or traded, it’s safe to say that this iteration of Hood post-injury will certainly dish out quality production for his team, albeit in limited minutes.