The short-handed Milwaukee Bucks’ bench has made key plays recently

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

The Milwaukee Bucks’ bench has been among their biggest weak points throughout the season. According to, Milwaukee’s second unit ranks 25th or worse in points, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocked shots per game. This unit has had its issues contributing consistently, and things were bound to get worse with two pivotal pieces in Pat Connaughton and George Hill missing significant time due to injuries lately.

With Milwaukee coming out of the All-Star break with the league’s hardest remaining schedule, they would need more from their bench, and thus far, they have gotten some solid production in their last few games. While the bench brigade has not stuffed the stat sheet, the reserves have made some key plays throughout the Bucks’ impressive 4-1 stretch post-All-Star break to help the defending champs find a solid rhythm.

Looking at some of the Milwaukee Bucks’ second unit contributors following the 2022 NBA All-Star break

One Buck that has played some inspired basketball lately is Jevon Carter, whom the team signed off the buyout market last month. Carter clocked in a solid 10-point effort off the bench in a win over the Charlotte Hornets recently, hitting two triples and hitting four of his free throw attempts. The ferocious guard also left his mark defensively by holding Terry Rozier to seven points on just 3-of-7 shooting with two turnovers. Several days later, Carter had another strong showing, this time against the Chicago Bulls, where he scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including a very clutch layup late to help the Bucks seal the deal. Once again, Carter made an impact defensively by holding Zach LaVine to two points on 1-of-4 shooting and a turnover.

Serge Ibaka also turned some heads throughout Sunday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns as he put together his best performance with the Bucks yet. The center tallied 14 points on 60 percent shooting while pulling down 10 rebounds off the bench. While his scoring and rebounding stood out above all else, Ibaka’s defense also helped as he had two massive blocks in the fourth quarter. The big man has had some issues trying to find his footing with the Bucks since coming aboard at the trade deadline, so seeing him play this well was undoubtedly refreshing. Milwaukee traded for Ibaka because of his excellent defense, scoring ability, and battle-tested pedigree, which were all on display in Sunday’s game.

Another Buck that stood out throughout Milwaukee’s matchup with Phoenix was Jordan Nwora. The second-year forward has been in and out of the rotation this season, but he received a huge opportunity off the bench on Sunday, especially late. Nwora played 11 and a half minutes during the fourth quarter, scoring six points on 2-of-3 shooting while pulling down two key rebounds in that span as the Bucks secured the comeback win. Having played all but 22 seconds in the fourth, head coach Mike Budenholzer’s trust in Nwora was on full display, and it worked in the end as the 23-year-old played well offensively and competent defensively to help the Bucks win.

Wesley Matthews and DeAndre’ Bembry have also helped on the wing with their defense. The pair have taken on top-tier assignments for the champs following the break, especially Matthews. The swingman was tasked with guarding DeMar DeRozan in Milwaukee’s recent meeting with Chicago, and he did a valiant job of guarding the MVP candidate by holding him to just 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting when they were matched up. Matthews has struggled offensively by shooting 5-of-21 from the floor, including 3-of-14 from three, but his defense has been stellar. Bembry has failed to play a significant role for the defending champs since being signed, but he has given them another strong wing defender to use when Matthews needs a breather.

Whether it be Carter’s energetic presence, Ibaka’s veteran savviness, Nwora’s scoring, or defense from Matthews and Bembry, Milwaukee’s bench has helped tremendously lately. As the Bucks await reinforcements in the form of Hill and Connaughton, this group has done a reputable job of embracing the “next man up” mentality.

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With a tough stretch looming ahead, hopefully they can continue to help the Milwaukee Bucks.