Despite being named a major league MVP all summer, Merrill has yet to find success at the NBA level, playing just 11 NBA games over the past two seasons in Memphis and Cleveland. For some players, finding the same level of success in the NBA regular season games that they experienced in the summer league might be a long way off, so let’s take a closer look at what the six roster players on the Bucks squad can take off the field in Las Vegas to training camp when the team begins prepping for the regular season in the fall.
Beauchamp played in the Bucks’ first four summer league games, coming out of the gates solidly, averaging 21.6 points and 7 rebounds per game and making 51.6 percent of his shots in the team’s first two games. In the team’s third game, he went scoreless on a 0-for-5 shooting performance before ending his Summer League play with a 10-point and three-assist performance in the Bucks’ fourth game.
All indications from new head coach Adrian Griffin are that Beauchamp will be given a chance to break the coin rotation at the start of the year. If the second-year winger wants to do that, he’ll need to build on what he’s shown over his first two matches in Las Vegas. At first, Beauchamp gave a real priority to attacking the basket.
With the Bucks’ best players on the ground, Beauchamp likely won’t be given the chance to run a ton with the ball in his hands like he did in Las Vegas, but there’s no reason he should stop aggressively attacking on the touchdowns or working on the edge of dribble deliveries. Aggressiveness on the rebound and getting to the free throw line more often can help Beauchamp be more consistent in positional minutes and earn easy points at the free throw line.
Last year, Beauchamp’s free throw average (free throw attempts per field goal attempt) was 0.152. In Vegas, that number rose to . 372. Generally speaking, there are more errors in the Summer League, but this is a much higher rate and was indicative of the 22-year-old winger’s more aggressive edge attacks. Beauchamp spent his rookie season with the Bucks working on getting stronger and perfecting a tighter handle. If he can use that work to consistently get to the rim and the free throw line, he could become a more consistent contributor.
Green only played in two summer league games for the Bucks as he had a sore right ankle that forced him to miss the team’s first two games and a back spasm that kept him out of the Bucks’ fourth game. However, he continued to do the thing he usually did during his rookie season and made 3-of-7 from behind the 3-point line (42.9 percent) in limited minutes on the floor.
The ability to open up and hit a 3-pointer of action in unusual positions is always likely to be the thing that gives Green a chance to find a spot in the NBA rotation:
But if Green wants to stay in the league this season, it’s likely to be about what he can do defensively. Under Griffin, pressure on the ball will take on more importance and that will be a real test for Green.
The 23-year-old Northern Iowa product doubled down and added strength to his physique in his first year with the Bucks, but survival in the NBA will also require him to move his feet and stay ahead of his competition. Griffin may end up being more forgiving of errors made by defenders on the ball than Budenholzer, who insisted on holding one of the lowest error rates in the NBA defensively.
That could allow Green to try and use his hands and strength to keep the drivers ahead of him defensively, but Green’s limited movement in Las Vegas didn’t offer a real glimpse of what he could do defensively.
In Connecticut, Jackson was the ultimate conductor. Last season, on his way to his fifth UConn Men’s Basketball National Championship, he led the team in assists. He understood exactly where his teammates wanted the ball and his teammates understood how to move around him to get open shots. Creating these types of opportunities for his Summer League teammates was somewhat more difficult for Jackson as he compiled a 2:3 turnover assist quota with 12 assists and 18 turnovers in five games.
Jackson still makes some great passes, like the timed skip pass and the goal to Beauchamp above, but it will be interesting to see how the Bucks use their rookie forward on offense during the regular season.
The 6-foot-6 winger undoubtedly has great ground vision, but he plays at a different pace and rhythm than most other players and plays in a strange way. In college, Connecticut State coach Dan Hurley used that insight and based his offense on Jackson’s signature technique with various actions to free up teammates as they transitioned from Jackson. For the Bucks, Jackson will likely come off the bench and play a much smaller role.
Will Griffin find it useful to build offensive action from Jackson to help the Bucks’ bench units offensively? Or does he just expect the rookie to find a way to influence the game as an off-the-ball cutter while the reckless starter creates offense to bench units? For college freshmen, the decision is easy. It gets a little more complicated when that player comes off the bench in the NBA.
Playing in the Summer League, Livingston showed his mettle. As he led the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Bucks to the basket, he was often able to create space and move wing defenders out of his way to open himself up for shots.
like he said the athlete But this past week, the biggest question for him offensively will be whether or not he can consistently drop shots from the outside. In Vegas, Livingston was only 3-of-11 from depth (27.3 percent) and teams were starting to fall behind him by the end of the two weeks. If he can’t drop shots consistently, teams will only defend him with bigger strikers who will be able to back him down because the Blues don’t fear his and use their size to hold him out of the dribble.
Livingston, at 19, is still quite young, so he has the opportunity to continue to improve over the course of his rookie contract, but the Bucks will need to continue investing time in him to make the most of the 58th pick in the draft.
Moore didn’t play much for the Bucks in the Summer League. Despite appearing in all five games, Moore played only 11.6 minutes per game and only took nine shots. This was one of those picks though:
This bucket nicely sums up Moore’s greatest hope. The left spin showed his car as a player, and the left float end showed off his 6-foot-10 wingspan and skill as a player. At San Jose State, Moore scored 17.4 points per game and led the Aztecs to a 20-win season for the first time in over 40 years as a forward on the ball. With the ball in his hands, Moore could have a bucket in college.
To stay in the NBA, Moore will have to improve in all aspects of the game that will first allow him to become an inning player. While he will likely be given plenty of opportunities to shine with the ball in his hands and with the Herd as a two-way player, Moore will need to get stronger, prove he can be a solid defender and improve as an off-the-ball player to get real opportunities at the NBA level.
Wigginton played just 37 minutes in two games for the Bucks in the Summer League, but he performed largely as expected, putting up 13.0 points per game and hitting five of his seven 3-point attempts. The 25-year-old guard will enter his third season with the Bucks organization when training camp begins at the end of September and the Bucks know pretty much what they’re getting into with him, but as of now, more will be demanded of Wigginton than ever.
Bucks General Manager Jon Hurst also spoke during his one-on-one with the the athleteThe Bucks are currently “at peace” going into the season without a real backup guard on the 15-man roster and fine with Wigginton allowed to fill in a few minutes at backup point guard, if needed. With that in mind, Wigginton will need to do a better job sponsoring basketball.
In his limited summer league time, Wigginton made seven turnovers while dishing out only three assists. With players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on the roster, the Bucks can handle playing without a real guard on the ground and they don’t necessarily need Wigginton to be an assistant on the ground.
But if the team is going to go with more scoring guards like Wigginton at the backup point guard, he’s going to need to do a better job of looking after the ball and avoiding mistakes.
(Photo by Andre Jackson Jr. Margo Beauchamp and Chris Livingston: Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)