Mike Budenholzer praises Jordan Nwora after Milwaukee Bucks’ latest win

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 06 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 06 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

In his second season with the Milwaukee Bucks, 23-year-old forward Jordan Nwora has been in and out of the rotation. The sophomore has struggled to carve out a consistent role for himself on this veteran-oriented team, primarily getting time when the Bucks are without a player or two due to injuries or whatever else. This was the case in Sunday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns, where Milwaukee was set to be without Wesley Matthews, Pat Connaughton, and several others. With a handful of rotational players missing, Nwora would have an opportunity to shine, and he delivered.

Breaking down Jordan Nwora’s strong play for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Phoenix Suns

Playing 26-and-a-half minutes off the bench, Nwora scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting while pulling down five rebounds and tallying a steal. Offensively, it was a tough night from deep for the forward as he knocked down just one triple in six attempts, meaning all five of his missed shots in the game came from behind the arc. Still, he made every shot from 2-point range, attacking with authority on numerous occasions with positive results.

While he played an all-around solid game, Nwora’s presence was felt throughout the final quarter primarily, mainly because he played over 11-and-a-half minutes. In that timeframe, he scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting, both of which were timely baskets. The first make was a floater to give the Bucks a 115-113 lead with just over five minutes left to play, and the second was yet another layup that put the Bucks on top 122-121 with under three minutes to play. Seeing the youngster knock down a pair of big-time shots had to work wonders for his confidence, particularly as they helped the team secure a hard-fought victory.

Nwora looked comfortable playing nearly the entire period alongside Milwaukee’s other regulars, and his play on the court showed it. He did not force shots offensively like he might have done in the past, electing to either take it to the rim or pass to his teammates. Defensively, where Nwora has had some struggles throughout his young career, the forward actually held up well and had a few noticeable impact plays down the stretch that helped the champs earn this win.

Electing to have Nwora out on the court for virtually the entire period shows the trust that coach Mike Budenholzer has in the young forward, especially considering how close the game was.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer had praise for Jordan Nwora following Sunday’s game

Immediately after the game, coach Budenholzer spoke to reporters and raved about Nwora’s strong performance, deeming it arguably the best in the 23-year-old’s young career.

"“I think, not knowing every game Jordan has had for us, that’s easily got to be his best game in a tough, competitive environment against a really good team that’s really well-coached and competes and does all of the little things. For Jordan to feel that, experience that, I know he has had more points, but to me, that’s clearly his best game. I think he played the whole fourth quarter if I’m not mistaken. The trust that his teammates have in him, the trust that’s growing with all of us in Jordan, it’s a big day today. Really proud of him.”"

When he was asked about his big day and Budenholzer’s comments postgame, Nwora’s answer highlighted how he enjoyed helping the team in the most significant moments.

"“I think it’s really big for me when I’m in those moments, playing in big games, playing down the stretch, it’s something I can learn from and get better from as opposed to sometimes watching. So, it’s great for me. Tonight definitely helped me in terms of learning, getting better, and luckily, I was able to do it in a win…”“I think all-around it was definitely one of my better games. Like I said, being out there down the stretch says a lot as to how I was playing. If I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing, I wouldn’t have been out there. I’m just going to go with what the coach says, yeah.”"

Nwora has not seen a prominent role with the defending champions this season, but a game like this could bode well for him moving forward. The 23-year-old showed that he could contribute in the biggest moments, and it will be interesting to see how they utilize him down the stretch.

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Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for Jordan Nwora and the Milwaukee Bucks.