Aside from both of them being Milwaukee Bucks, MarJon Beauchamp and Jae Crowder entered the 2023-24 NBA season under different circumstances.
Beauchamp, a sophomore, began his second season with a big chip on his shoulder as he looked to crack the rotation. After being selected in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft, the two guard’s role was minimal on the oldest team in the association. He spent most nights glued to the bench, but it was clear that there was potential waiting to be unearthed. The opportunity never came.
Meanwhile, Crowder also began the year with a chip on his shoulder, but he was far from a young player looking to prove they belong. Instead, Crowder, who has always been heralded as a veteran 3-and-D ace, wanted to prove that he belonged following a lackluster showing with Milwaukee to close out the 2022-23 season.
After being acquired in exchange for five second round picks and three role players at last season’s trade deadline, Crowder spent a good amount of time alongside Beauchamp on the sidelines down the stretch. Many were saying the veteran’s best days were behind him, as he looked like a shell of himself. Wanting to prove them wrong, he re-upped with the Bucks on a one-year deal.
Both the inexperienced youngster and the battle-tested veteran have been under a microscope in the early going this season, and they’ve both produced positive results.
MarJon Beauchamp and Jae Crowder have elevated this Milwaukee Bucks’ bench
There were questions about which reserves would step up for the Bucks this season, and the duo of Crowder and Beauchamp has answered the call.
In four games this year, Beauchamp hasn’t played a massive role at just 15.5 minutes per contest, but he’s made his presence felt. Offensively, he’s been extremely efficient, tallying 8.3 points while shooting 60 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point line. Whether he’s cutting to the basket or letting it fly from deep, the results have been excellent so far.
Defensively, he’s given the Bucks the combination of athleticism, versatility, and switchability that they’ve longed for. Not only is he 6-foot-6 with a lengthy wingspan, but Beauchamp also gained a bit of weight this off-season to help him stick with bigger players as well. He’s still learning on that end, but he’s finding his niche more and more game by game.
Something that has undeniably helped fuel Beauchamp’s success this year is his early confidence. Last season, he was oftentimes noticeably timid, passing up on quality looks he should have taken and not expressing belief in himself. This season, it’s been a much different story; Beauchamp has played like a player trying to prove he belongs in this veteran-orientated rotation.
A lot of the same could be said about Crowder. Last season, it was clear that he was not in tip-top shape, having sat out the entire season before being traded to Milwaukee at the deadline. Even if he worked out for all of those months, nothing beats actual game reps, and he didn’t have proper chemistry with all of his new teammates, either.
This season, those concerns were lessened, as Crowder got to spend the off-season working out with his new teammates, building chemistry, and getting himself into the proper shape. The early results have been promising, as Crowder has looked much more like the player Milwaukee hoped they were getting last season when they coughed up all of those assets.
He’s been lights out on offense, averaging 8.4 points while shooting 53.6 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent from long range. Most of his production has come from 3-point territory, and if he can keep shooting like this, it would be a major boost. Alongside the talent in town, he’ll keep getting open looks, and it’ll be up to him to cash them.
On the opposite end of the court, Crowder has played like his old self. After many accused him of having cinder blocks for feet last season, the forward has looked much quicker, and he’s done an impressive job defending guards, having held players at the position to 6-of-16 shooting, which comes in at 37.5 percent. That type of play could go a long way for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Four and five games are not large sample sizes, but it’s still great to see two players who had big question marks surrounding them start the season strong. Hopefully the youngster and the vet can keep the strong play going. They may be at different points in their careers, but they share a common goal: help the Milwaukee Bucks win it all.
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