5 Milwaukee Bucks with the most to prove in the 2023-24 season: Jae Crowder
When the Milwaukee Bucks first acquired him in 2022, Jae Crowder was heralded by many as the missing piece to shore up the team’s already top-10 defense on the perimeter.
The team at that point — and arguably to this point — had long been searching for a stout, switchable defender to replace the toughness and never-say-die mentality that P.J. Tucker brought to that end of the floor.
It’s safe to say that things didn’t work out that way. We all know how it ends: former head coach Mike Budenholzer hardly played him in a series where his services on the defensive end would have been invaluable against the surging wing offense of Jimmy Butler. That wasn’t entirely unfounded: in the few minutes he did play in the regular season, Crowder looked a step slow and unable to play the very role he was acquired for.
This time around, Crowder will be looking to prove why he was worth five second-round picks in the midseason trade that sent him to Milwaukee. With a full offseason under his belt, he got in the gym and managed to cut weight to get into playing shape.
“I like everything about the work environment, and I want to give it another good shot. I’m just motivated; I’ve been thinking about it all summer,” said Crowder of his second tenure with the Bucks in his introductory presser during media day. “I can still contribute to a great team. I’m still that guy. It’s just time to rise to the occasion, no doubt….I feel great, I feel lean, and now I just have to get my legs under me.”
The Bucks have never had a do-it-all wing defender of Crowder’s caliber before. And if he can be the player Bucks fans saw in him earlier in his career, he might just be a game-changer in championship-winning situations. After an underwhelming first year in Milwaukee, Crowder certainly has a lot to prove.