The Milwaukee Bucks have fought and clawed their way to a 5-3 record thus far this season. Managing to have a winning record despite the team’s struggles on defense is the optimistic way to look at their season; a title contender having a negative net rating through eight games is the pessimistic view.
Just as the Bucks as a team have had an up-and-down season, so have their individual players been all over the place. Some are having a strong start to the year, while others are struggling to play at a high level. Let’s look at which players fall into which category and what it might mean moving forward.
Jae Crowder’s stock is soaring
After the Bucks paid five second-round picks to add him at last year’s trade deadline, Jae Crowder struggled to shake off the rust of sitting out the first half of the season and found himself on the fringes of Milwaukee’s rotation. By the time the playoffs rolled around, even with Giannis Antetokounmpo missing time, Crowder only averaged 10 minutes per game and shot just 23.1 percent from the field.
This season, he looks like his old self, comfortably launching from 3-point range and knocking down 53.3 percent on his 3.8 attempts per game. He is up to 28 minutes as a regular rotation player and has closed multiple games for the Bucks thus far. He’s playing a small but valuable role in the Bucks’ offense, and defensively, he’s taking on a lot of responsibility due to the poor defenders now littering the Bucks’ backcourt rotation.
If Crowder continues to shoot this well, the Bucks should get him more shots on the perimeter, but just the fact that Crowder has rebounded from last season and gotten his career back on track is a sign of his soaring stock to start the season.