Despite the acquisition of seven-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, the Milwaukee Bucks are off to a slow start in the 2023-24 NBA season. The Bucks started the season 5-4, and have already lost to some of the league's weaker teams.
While they do seem to be turning things around these days, there are a number of reasons for the Bucks' slow start that may come back to haunt them later on. One reason is that Lillard is still learning how to play with his new teammates. Lillard is a ball-dominant player, and the Bucks have a number of other talented offensive players, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. As a result of the mix of talent, it has naturally taken some time for Lillard to figure out how to fit in with the Bucks' offense.
But the most glaring reason for the Bucks' slow start is that they were, for a time, struggling on defense, particularly on the perimeter. Thus far into the young season, the Milwaukee Bucks have given up 46.2 percent efficiency from the field, which is only good for 12th in the league according to NBA.com/stats. They're also giving up a putrid 23rd-ranked 116.8 points per 100 possessions thus far.
The reality of this roster as it stands is that they did give up a lot of defense by trading away Jrue Holiday, while defenders like Middleton and Brook Lopez are getting up there in age. Because of this, the team’s lineup as currently constructed just hasn’t been able to implement head coach Adrian Griffin’s aggressive, switch-heavy defense as he imagines it.
Fortunately for them, they do have a few tradable contracts and assets if they ever decide it’s time for an upgrade. Here are a few names they should be monitoring ahead of the trade deadline.
No. 4 - Delon Wright
An established veteran point guard in this league, Wright would provide defense, scoring, and facilitation on the court right off the bat if the Bucks were to make a move to acquire him. He has averaged 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game over his nine-year career thus far, which are relatively steady numbers for a tertiary playmaker coming off the bench.
The biggest boon should the Bucks decide to make a move at acquiring Wright is that he’s a point guard with size at 6-foot-5, and when called upon, he can defend well against opposing guards — something that’s particularly lacking in the starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and Malik Beasley. Alongside Milwaukee's other key players, Wright would blend in perfectly and help create some intriguing lineups to add defense around the talents of Lillard.
The stats back up Wright’s steady on-court production quite well. According to Cleaning the Glass (Subscription required), Wright has put up 122.9 points per 100 possessions on offense to go with a minus-4.3 defensive rating in his minutes for the Wizards thus far, which would be good for the 92nd percentile among players in his position in those statistics, respectively. On the other end, he held opponents to minus-4.3 points per 100 a season ago, though his defensive rating has since shot down to plus-0.6 through 140 minutes of play to start this season.
At the end of the day, Wright is an experienced NBA player with eight years of experience in the league, which is why this writer backed a proposed trade for him in the offseason. He has played in the playoffs on multiple occasions and knows what it takes to win at the highest level. His versatility and experience would be a valuable asset to the Bucks, particularly in the playoffs.