Can Sandro Mamukelashvili play a role for Milwaukee Bucks next season?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

We’ve talked a lot about how the Milwaukee Bucks don’t have a ton of assets to improve their depth this offseason and that’s true. They’ll need to rely on cheap signings, possibly a trade, and maybe a late first-round pick to contribute.

But what about some of the guys already on the roster? Milwaukee has used late second-round picks on four guys the last two seasons and two of them are still on the roster or have the rights to, in Sandro Mamukelashvili and Jordan Nwora.

I’ve made my optimism for Nwora clear and I’d like to see him get a chance next season to prove himself in year three but Mamukelashvili could be put in an exciting position next season if the team can’t find any big man depth. Or perhaps even if they do!

Could Sandro Mamukelashvili jump into a rotation role next season for the Milwaukee Bucks?

It would be unrealistic to think that Mamukelashvili could become a regular rotation player in his sophomore season, but it’s not out of the question that he could contribute in a bigger way this coming season.

Entering his rookie year, Mamukelashvili was probably asked to do more than he and the team expected once Brook Lopez went down with a back injury and their already thin frontcourt depth was tested even further. He played over 27 minutes in the second game of the season which was a blowout loss to the Miami Heat where he posted 12 points, went 2-of-4 from 3, and grabbed four boards.

Overall, Mamukelashvili played sparingly. He averaged around 10 minutes a night over 41 games played with 3.8 points, shooting 42.3 percent on 52 total 3-point attempts, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.5 assists. Those don’t jump off the page as numbers of a guy who could play a role next season for a team with championship aspirations but Mamukelashvili’s interesting skillset is something that Milwaukee values with their role players.

Since he’s, you know, a late second-round rookie, Mamukelashvili didn’t get the chance to show off his extensive offensive skillset as much in the NBA (and likely won’t as long as he’s on the Bucks) but in his 12 G League games, Mamukelashvili shined.

He averaged 20.7 points on 63 percent true shooting, 10.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks. He shot over 38 percent on 5.3 attempts from behind the arc. He was the focal point of the Wisconsin Herd and he showed a lot more of his potential.

What Mamukelashvili showed was that he could hit 3s off the catch and crash the offensive glass (3.3 offensive boards per game with the Herd) and those are two attributes that the Bucks value a lot when playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday.

If he does want to step into a bigger role, they’ll need to find a way to use him defensively to mitigate his limitations. He was often hunted on switches by opposing stars, which is to be expected when a late second-round pick is on the court. But he would have played more if head coach Mike Budenholzer trusted him more on that end of the floor.

The opportunity will be there for the 23-year-old. Milwaukee only has Lopez and Mamukelashvili as big men under contract for next season with Bobby Portis and Serge Ibaka as free agents. Even if Portis is brought back and they add another low-cost free agent, Mamukelashvili will be given a chance like Nwora got this season to earn more playing time.

Nwora wasn’t able to take advantage of the opportunity early on but got better as the season progressed. Mamukelashvili will also have bumps in the road but there’s a promising player that could emerge.

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The Milwaukee Bucks will need to get contributions from unlikely sources next season so there’s no reason why Mamukelashvili can’t be part of that.