The Milwaukee Bucks’ midseason additions are showing their importance

Mar 22, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Serge Ibaka, Golden State Warriors: Kevon Looney
Mar 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks have not been shy about tinkering their roster during the regular season over the past few seasons. The P.J. Tucker trade from last season stands as the most prominent, given what that led to, but the front office has made other notable moves such as their trade for Nikola Mirotic in 2019, signing Marvin Williams via the buyout in 2020, and several others to help bolster the Bucks’ roster. This trend has continued throughout the 2021-22 season as the Bucks’ front office has made a handful of moves through trade and the buyout market to put the team in the best position to win.

Those midseason moves have quickly paid dividends for the defending champions as each player they have brought aboard has contributed one way or another. Unfortunately, one of those pieces was DeAndre’ Bembry, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL after just eight games with the franchise, but he was a solid rotational player before the injury. We wish Bembry the best as he recovers. As the Bucks aim to finish strong down the stretch, let us look closer at how Milwaukee’s midseason additions have all performed and how they have shown their importance since coming aboard.

Serge Ibaka has found his footing with the Milwaukee Bucks following the NBA All-Star break

The Bucks traded for Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline to bolster their size, and they added more championship experience, toughness, and two-way play in the process.

After some early growing pains, Ibaka has quickly gotten up to speed following the All-Star break as he has averaged 7.4 points while pulling down 5.2 rebounds over his last 13 games.

On offense, Ibaka has been efficient as he is shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 37 percent on his 3-pointers in this stretch. Ibaka’s outside shooting was always viewed as a wild card, but it is a facet of his game that has gotten better lately, particularly as a catch-and-shoot threat, where he has shot 10-of-25 (40 percent) following the break, per Given just how heavily the Bucks rely on outside shooting from their centers, this has been a great sign early.

This fantastic shooting has helped Ibaka find a groove in Milwaukee and gel with his teammates, especially the Big 3. Ibaka is shooting an efficient 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) off passes directly from Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the pairing proving to be a lethal combination thus far. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton have also helped spark a sizeable chunk of Ibaka’s 3-point production as he is shooting 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) from three off passes from Holiday and 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) off passes from Middleton. The veteran has brought some welcoming versatility to the table on this side of things, especially from behind the arc.

Defensively, the 6-foot-10 center has given head coach Mike Budenholzer another towering body to utilize down low, something Ibaka has embraced fully. The veteran center has done a valiant job of protecting the paint, and, interestingly enough, he leads Milwaukee in 2-point shots contested following the All-Star break with 77 total. Having a defender as reputable as Ibaka available in the minutes where Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brook Lopez are not on the floor has been huge, as the team has had strong interior protection at all times.

Getting more comfortable with each passing game, Ibaka has shown why the Milwaukee Bucks were ultimately right to make the trade for him. Ibaka has been a sizeable help on both sides of the basketball, and hopefully he continues to get adjusted accordingly.