The Milwaukee Bucks have a glaring backup point guard predicament

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 24 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 24 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

With just four regular season games left to play before the postseason, the Milwaukee Bucks are still working out the kinks in the rotation. Considering that the team has endured a handful of vital players missing significant time due to injuries while also trying to reintegrate several newcomers, that is somewhat understandable with the team as whole as it has been all year. With their roster nearly at full strength, one of the biggest problems that the Bucks have run into recently has been their handling of distributing backup point guard minutes, which has caused justifiable controversy down the stretch.

Looking closer at the Milwaukee Bucks’ ongoing backup point guard predicament

To say that George Hill has been disappointing this season would be a significant understatement. What initially looked like a great signing in free agency quickly proved to be a poor move as Hill has had one of his least-productive seasons to date, but he still plays a key role. When the guard was sidelined due to neck soreness following a January 28 game, the defending champions brought on Jevon Carter, who was waived by the Brooklyn Nets shortly before. Fans did not expect much from Carter, given that he was having his worst statistical season to date before being waived, but that changed quickly as he flipped the script with the Bucks immediately, having put up career bests in virtually every statistical category since coming aboard.

Given Hill’s lackluster play and Carter’s rejuvenation, it was feasible to believe that the latter would be the team’s backup floor general moving forward. However, things have not panned out like that as Hill has reclaimed his minutes since returning to the lineup, which has lessened Carter’s playing time to the point where he does not see a single minute of action some nights. Given how strongly he has played with Milwaukee, not playing Carter has been a puzzling decision by the Bucks, which has only been amplified by Hill’s sluggish performance.

Assessing the production between the Milwaukee Bucks’ backup point guards

In 50 appearances this season, Hill has averaged a mere 6.3 points per contest while shooting 43 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from long range while handing out 2.3 assists on average. Meanwhile, Carter has averaged 6.6 points while shooting a scorching 58.5 percent from the field and 61.1 percent from 3-point territory while dishing out 2.6 assists per game. Though the points are not too far off from one another, it is how the players are getting them. Carter has been miles more efficient than Hill, providing some instant offense whenever he checks in. Considering that a prominent weakness for Milwaukee this season has been their bench scoring – 27th in the NBA – Carter’s scoring since coming on has helped tremendously.

As evidenced by the numbers provided above, the most noticeable difference between these two has been their outside shooting. Hill’s 31.3 percent mark for the season is the worst of his ongoing NBA career as the guard has not been able to throw a rock in the ocean for most of the year. Given that he led the league in 3-point percentage at 46 percent with the Bucks just two years ago, this has been a puzzling predicament. Instead of being a reliable shooter like most fans envisioned, he has become a liability on that side of the basketball, which has hurt the team drastically.

On the other hand, Carter’s long-range shooting has been great, having hit 22-of-36 since joining the Bucks. Carter has turned himself into the perimeter threat that Hill was supposed to be when he signed back with the team in the offseason. In fact, among players that have attempted 20 or more threes since the All-Star break, Carter has been the most efficient in the NBA by shooting 61.1 percent on his triples, according to Rather than playing the guard that has a hot streak going, the Bucks have questionably relied more on the one that has struggled all year.

Hill’s defense is certainly not the reason he is playing more minutes because although he is among the quality defensive guards in the league, he is not better than Carter on that side of things either. Carter has made a living in this league due to his defense, and he has been stellar in that regard for the Bucks as he can oftentimes be found picking up opposing players full-court and making things difficult for them on every possession. While Hill is serviceable on that end, he is not Carter, which makes this entire situation even more troubling.

Sunday’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks was a frustrating one in regards to this situation, as Hill struggled in significant minutes while Carter did not play at all. In 18 minutes, Hill scored zero points on 0-of-3 shooting while tallying a turnover and three personal fouls. Despite Hill’s subpar play, Carter did not get to check into the game once, which has been a common theme lately with the latter spending a handful of recent key matchups glued to the sidelines. Even more frustrating is that Carter had his best game in a Bucks uniform yet in Milwaukee’s previous game against the LA Clippers by scoring 18 points and handing out eight assists. How does one clock in a game like that and then get shelved in the team’s next game? It is beyond confusing.

Whether it be because Hill’s contract is guaranteed for $4 million both this season and next year or his familiarity with coach Mike Budenholzer and the other players or whatever else, the Bucks seem poised to keep the guard in the rotation. Yet, after Sunday’s tough loss, it is clear that they need to make the swap with Carter and Hill. The former has earned the job with his strong play since coming on, but the Bucks just will not hand him the keys.

Sure, there is still a chance that Hill could flip the script and get on the right track, but with four regular season games left to play before the playoffs, he is running out of time.

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Stay tuned to see how this backup guard saga unfolds for the Milwaukee Bucks.