Last season was a strange one for Milwaukee Bucks forward Jae Crowder.
From the moment Crowder requested a trade from the Phoenix Suns before the season, the Bucks were hot on his trail. The team’s interest in Crowder never faded, as he landed in Milwaukee after initially being sent to the Brooklyn Nets in the blockbuster Kevin Durant deal. The Bucks paid quite the price for Crowder, giving up three players and five second round picks. They wanted him badly.
On paper, Crowder was the perfect trade target for the Bucks, who were in the market for another wing defender. However, Crowder never quite found his footing after sitting out prior to the trade, having struggled to crack Mike Budenholzer’s rotation late in the season. He played just 41 total minutes for Milwaukee across four games in the playoffs.
After an uneventful outing with the Bucks, many thought Crowder would depart, but he shocked a good amount of people after he not only decided to return but also did so by taking a prove-it deal worth the minimum. Now, he’s out to wipe the slate clean and prove his worth as the Bucks aim to capture another championship.
Bucks are getting a “motivated” Jae Crowder, and they’ll need him
Speaking to reporters recently, Crowder did not hide that he’s extremely motivated right now after what transpired last season.
"“I think I’m coming in very motivated, willing to prove myself to the team, to the world [that] I can still contribute to a great team and I’m still that guy.”"
There are several factors that could lead to Crowder bouncing back this coming season, but none of them are more prominent than the fact that he will actually be playing to start the year rather than sitting out like he did last season. He has chemistry with most of these players, and it won’t take much for him to get acquainted with other new guys, such as former teammate Cam Payne.
On the floor, Crowder could be exactly what the Bucks need on the wing. With Wesley Matthews leaving for Atlanta and Jrue Holiday in Boston, Milwaukee needs a primary wing defender to take on tough assignments nightly. That’s essentially what Crowder has been doing during his entire NBA career, and the Bucks need him to live up to that stature this coming season.
Whether he’s starting or coming off of the bench, Crowder’s defense will be incredibly valuable in 2023-24. At 6-foot-6, 235 lbs, Crowder is the definition of versatile, as he’s able to guard multiple positions when called upon. One of the reasons why Milwaukee was so determined to land him in 2022-23 was likely due to the similarities he shares with P.J. Tucker, a former well-known Buck.
Following last season’s conclusion, the words “washed up” were often being thrown around when it came to Crowder.
If he saw any of that talk, it likely played a part in fueling his motivation heading into training camp and eventually the upcoming season. It’ll be fascinating to see if the veteran forward does indeed have a bounce-back year, which would be a significant boost for the Bucks, who need someone to step up as a versatile wing defender.
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