Why the Bucks should feature promising rookie in series against Pacers

The Pacers have one big advantage over the Bucks he could help with
Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

After a turbulent regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks will kick off their 2024 title quest against the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

It's no secret that the Pacers have given Milwaukee trouble this season. The Bucks managed to piece together a 1-4 record against Indiana in the regular season, with their lone win taking a record-setting 64-point game from Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks need to find a different gameplan to execute against a pesky rival, and a young player on the roster could potentially help.

Why the Bucks should feature promising rookie in series against Pacers

Whenever he's played, rookie Andre Jackson Jr. has shown glimpses of potential, providing hustle, defense, energy and much-needed athleticism. Given those attributes, it's been head-scratching why he hasn't played a more prominent role, given that this roster, one of the oldest in the NBA, has clearly needed all of those things time and time again this season.

His recent performance against the Toronto Raptors highlighted all of this. With the Bucks devoid of energy and struggling, Jackson received rare minutes in the second half and immediately made his presence felt by blocking a shot, skying for rebounds and playing hard-nosed defense. The Bucks did not win the game, but Jackson's play was a big silver lining.

The Pacers have the personnel to give Milwaukee problems, due to the athleticism, youth and energy they have in tow. Up top, Milwaukee's roster isn't built to defend players like that, which is a significant reason why they have struggled against Indy this season. Those struggles could very well carry over into the NBA Playoffs and spell doom for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jackson wouldn't swing a series for the Bucks, but he may be better equipped to defend someone like Obi Tobbin, Aaron Nesmith or even Tyrese Haliburton for a few possessions over some of the team's veterans. Also, the Pacers were fourth in fast-break points per game this season, and the Bucks need to get out in transition to defend this. That has Jackson's name written all over it.

Is Andre Jackson Jr. going to get key time against the Pacers? Probably not. It is somewhat more likely with Giannis Antetokounmpo's status up in the air and AJ Green currently injured, but Rivers may just stick with his veterans like he has. Still, he gave the rookie a shot in that Toronto game, so it's clear he knows that Jackson can provide a significant spark.

It would be gut-wrenching as a fan to watch Indy's uber-athletic players constantly blow by defenders the Bucks throw at them while Jackson rots on the bench. Even as an inexperienced rookie who may make mistakes here and there, Jackson may be able to help this team out mightily in a series like this.

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