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Why Jevon Carter could be a potential wild card for the Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 02 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 02 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

When the Milwaukee Bucks signed Jevon Carter off the buyout market last month, not too many people batted an eye. Most were still mad that the Bucks struck out on Goran Dragic, who elected to sign with the Brooklyn Nets over the defending champs, which prompted Carter’s release from Brooklyn and allowed him to sign with Milwaukee in the first place. While the signing was initially viewed as a subpar move, Carter has certainly changed that notion by making a strong impression throughout his first few games with Milwaukee.

Why Jevon Carter could potentially be a wild card for the Milwaukee Bucks

First and foremost, Carter’s wild card status could depend on the health of George Hill, who has been sidelined since January 28 with sudden neck soreness. There is no current timetable for his return, which is why the Bucks brought in Carter to begin with. They needed a backup guard that could handle the basketball, and the 26-year-old gave them that immediately. Depending on the severity of Hill’s neck issues, Carter could see a significant role off Milwaukee’s bench for quite a while, and thus far, he has provided optimism that he can be a solid contributor in Hill’s absence.

Most of Carter’s impact will be felt on the defensive end, where the former second round pick has made a living in this league. From the moment he stepped on the floor for the very first time with the Bucks, the guard brought some welcoming intensity. Carter was putting pressure full-court on the Nets’ ball-handlers in his Bucks debut and even forced an eight-second violation on Dragic. He is yet another strong guard defender, and coach Mike Budenholzer can utilize him in lineups when Jrue Holiday needs a breather. Having another strong defender like Carter has proven to be a boost for the Bucks throughout his first five games and that should only continue.

The Bucks know that Carter will bring his A-game defensively every night, but the bigger question mark revolves around his offense. Carter has never been known as much of a scorer, but the guard has displayed some potential early on by shooting 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from three. Given how the Bucks emphasize letting it fly from deep, Carter’s 3-point shot could prove crucial as he tries to gel with his teammates. If he can get a grip on that outside shot, it would be easier for Budenholzer to trust him out on the floor in crucial moments. The reserve guard will also have to fins a groove with his scoring from inside the arc, where he is just 1-of-6 to start his Bucks tenure.

The most apparent example of how sizeable of an impact Carter could have on the Bucks came in the team’s recent win over the Chicago Bulls. Carter was stellar by scoring eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 2-of-3 from long range off the bench. Not only did he knock down two massive 3-pointers, but Carter came up clutch by hitting a reverse layup to put the Bucks up by four points with just under 20 seconds left to play, his only 2-point basket with the team thus far.

In addition to the contributions he provided offensively, Carter helped on the other side of the ball as he held Chicago guard Zach LaVine to 1-of-4 shooting and blocked one of his attempts. Having a piece like Carter that can defend top-tier guards could be a luxury for the Bucks, especially if the defensive ace is able to knock down his shots on the opposite end as well. Once the postseason is in full swing, Carter’s excellent defense should earn him some quality minutes as the Bucks will be asking him to make things difficult for opposing guards.

Carter will essentially be tasked with playing the “P.J. Tucker” role for the defending champs, which entails playing hard-nosed defense on opposing stars while hitting the occasional shot. While it is still early, Carter has shown that he can indeed play this role for the Milwaukee Bucks, as it looks like they may have picked up a great piece off the buyout market. With Hill still nursing this neck soreness, Carter will be forced to step up, and if he can play his typical brand of basketball, he may be a wild card for this team.

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Stay tuned to see how Carter continues to mesh with the Milwaukee Bucks moving forward.