The Seton Hall product appeared in a mere 41 games, exactly 50 percent of the regular season, for an average of 9.9 minutes per contest as he oftentimes found himself on the floor during mop-up duty or playing during load management games. However, when Mamukelashvili did get playing time, there were glimpses of potential sprinkled throughout. Whether it was a vicious dunk, flashy pass, or nice defensive play, the rookie showed promising signs in his limited minutes.
Due to the potential he displayed in a small sample size, fans were anxious to see Mamukelashvili on a larger scale in the 2022 NBA Summer League. Well, the 23-year-old did not disappoint as the center played incredibly well, having averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and a blocked shot in 27.9 minutes per game. Mamukelashvili’s stellar five-game showing helped him earn All Summer League Team honors. While it was a mere five games, Mamukelashvili certainly raised his stock during the Summer League and proved that he has potential at this level.
Sandro Mamukelashvili’s potential should fascinate the Milwaukee Bucks
Given that the Milwaukee Bucks have had one of the league’s oldest rosters year in and year out in the past few seasons, adding youth is always a plus. Aside from Donte DiVincenzo, the Bucks have rarely relied on any young players nightly, but that is bound to change with MarJon Beauchamp on the roster after being selected 24th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. In addition to Beauchamp, the Bucks have another potential-filled young player in Sandro Mamukelashvili. Having just recently turned 23-years-old, Mamukelashvili has plenty of room to grow as a player, and the Bucks must look to unearth his potential and develop him into a possible long-term piece at center.
On paper, Mamukelashvili has displayed several signs that he can be a solid fit for the Bucks at the center position. First and foremost, he has been a fantastic 3-point shooter, having shot 22-of-52 (42.3 percent) in his rookie season and 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) in the 2022 NBA Summer League. The 6-foot-10 Mamukelashvili has never been hesitant to let it fly from distance, and that sweet outside shot would make him the perfect fit next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. It is no secret that the Bucks have targeted centers like Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis in recent memory because of their ability to stretch the floor, which gives Antetokounmpo more room to work offensively. While the sample size could be bigger, Mamukelashvili has shown that he could play that part during his limited action.
In addition to being a great marksman, Mamukelashvili possesses the tools to be a nice rebounder and even an excellent passer. Pulling down nearly nine rebounds per game in Summer League, the soon-to-be sophomore always crashes the glass with authority on both ends of the basketball court. It is obvious how much the Bucks emphasize rebounding the basketball, and Mamukelashvili could certainly help them stay up to par in that regard moving forward. Unlike other centers, Mamu has a knack for handling the basketball, as he often initiated the offense during Summer League and in his minutes last season. A 6-foot-10 center with handles and passing ability like Mamukelahvili’s is tough to come by, and who knows how much it could improve over time.
Despite the potential he has shown, there is still room for Mamukelashvili to get better, of course. The biggest area he should look to improve is his defense, as although Mamukelashvili is not quite a liability on that side of things, he could stand to get better, especially if he will find himself on the floor with the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and other reputable defensive players. Over time, Mamukelashvili should continue to develop as a defender as he spends more time with the Bucks, especially given the players he can learn from in that center rotation and the coaches in that circle.
Though Mamukelashvili may not have a role from day one next season, it does not hurt to have a promising young piece like him in the frontcourt. After all, the 34-year-old Brook Lopez just had a major back surgery that caused him to miss most of last season and will turn 35 before the regular season ends. Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka just turned 32-years-old as well and his best days are behind him. Bobby Portis is still relatively young at 27-years-old and the Bucks just locked him up on a long-term extension, but the same cannot be said for the other two. While Lopez and Ibaka are still two players that can help this team win in the present, there are some questions regarding their future and how long they will be with the franchise. Having a promising big man waiting in line like Mamukelashvili is a great thing to have when there is some uncertainty at the position down the line.
Ultimately, the Bucks will simply look to continue developing Mamukelashvili for now, whether that is in the G-League or in occasional action at the NBA level. Mamukelashvili is currently set to play on a two-way deal next season, but after his strong showing in the Summer League, it would not be surprising to see the team convert his deal to a standard contract. Not only would that be a nice gesture, but it would signal that the team sees his potential as well and open the door to give him some legitimate playing with the Bucks next season.
Stay tuned to see how Sandro Mamukelashvili’s second season with the Milwaukee Bucks goes.