Young Bucks guard is flirting with a rotation spot. It is time to make it permanent

Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks
Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

Entering the 2023-24 NBA season, most Milwaukee Bucks fans believed MarJon Beauchamp or Andre Jackson Jr. would be the young player likeliest to see playing time.

Both earned relatively consistent minutes for Milwaukee before the mid-season coaching change to bring in Doc Rivers, but since then, it's been AJ Green taking the spotlight. Since Rivers took over as head coach, Green has averaged the 10th most minutes on the roster, surpassing both Beauchamp (17th) and Jackson (15th).

Green is logging 13.7 minutes per matchup since January 29, but his role remains turbulent on a game-to-game basis. Some nights - such as a recent win over the LA Clippers, where he played the entire fourth quarter - the two-guard plays a lot. Other nights, he'll see a few minutes before exiting. Rivers has been experimenting with Green, but it's time to give him a larger role permanently.

Young Bucks guard is flirting with a rotation spot. It is time to make it permanent

In 14 appearances since Rivers began coaching, Green has averaged 6.4 points (seventh-most on the team) while shooting 40.7 percent from three (third-best on the team, trailing Khris Middleton and... Giannis Antetokounmpo). Whenever he steps onto the court, Green provides lethal spacing due to his limitless range, and he can put points on the board in a hurry.

Green's catch-and-shoot ability has served him particularly well in this stretch. Over these 14 games, he's shooting 20-of-47 (42.6 percent) from distance on catch-and-shoot tries, the best percentage on the Bucks among players to attempt at least 10 3-pointers. A player with that type of stroke would thrive off consistent looks from Milwaukee's stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard.

While he's primarily known for his marksmanship, Green has also upped his defensive effort as of late, catching rightful attention. Even if the guard will not be under consideration for All-Defensive honors at the end of the season, he's put forth tremendous effort, utilizing his 6-foot-4, 200lb frame to pester his opponents to the best of his ability.

In his second season, the 24 year old is still raw, but he cannot develop without being thrown into the fire. This is exactly what happened in Milwaukee's aforementioned comeback against the LA Clippers. After playing 10 minutes in the first three quarters combined, Green played the entire fourth quarter, scoring six points, dishing three assists and hitting an insanely clutch triple late.

Considering that he played Green for 12 consecutive minutes in a close game against a contender, Rivers clearly believes in the sophomore guard. Since taking over mid-season, it felt like Rivers has primarily relied on veterans, but Green is the one player challenging that idea. Down the final stretch of the season, Doc Rivers should eye a larger opportunity for the marksman guard.

Not only has Green started earning the confidence of the coaching staff, but it seems like the players are buying into him as well. On the "Pat Bev Pod," host and Bucks guard Patrick Beverley raved about what he's seen from Green since coming over at the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, highlighting just how important the 24-year-old has been lately.

"AJ Green. I love him... We close huddle against the Chicago Bulls, I say, 'Aye, Doc, before we close, AJ, man, you won us that game. Straight up. You won us that game.' Okay, cool. Fast forward, we play Clippers. He won us that game... I'm so happy for him."

With so much support around him, Green is confident every time he steps on the floor, as evidenced by his long-range shot against the Clippers. That confidence should only continue to climb if he gets more minutes for the Milwaukee Bucks, especially in these big-game situations.

If Green does receive more minutes, some others will have to see less. It's hard to piece together the entire rotation with Khris Middleton currently out, but two names who Green should syphon minutes from are Pat Connaughton and Danilo Gallinari. Connaughton has actually been decent lately, but there's an argument that Green still could take a few of those minutes. Gallinari has struggled mightily.

Props to AJ Green for taking advantage of an uptick in playing time lately. If his minutes continue to rise and he keeps playing well on both sides of the basketball, he could end up being an X-factor for the Milwaukee Bucks down the stretch.

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