There were mixed reactions among fans when the Milwaukee Bucks announced they were bringing back Wesley Matthews. This included some fans who were more than happy to welcome the Wisconsin native back to his second stint with the Bucks, while others were still unhappy with his surprising exit from the squad following the 2019-20 season. Whatever end of the spectrum fans landed on, everyone was curious to see how Matthews would fit in. Right now, the fit looks smooth after seven games.
Wesley Matthews has been great for the Milwaukee Bucks this season
If one looked only at Matthews’ contributions statistically, they probably wouldn’t be impressed, as the veteran is averaging six points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 15.8 minutes per game. his lowest level in his career. Still, the Bucks haven’t signed Matthews to fill out the stats sheet every night, although that would be a nice boost. They brought him on board to be a quality veteran rotation player who could add tenacity, experience, defense and shooting, all of which were fully on display early on.
Defensively, Matthews was a welcome addition for coach Mike Budenholzer. The 6-foot-4 swingman gave Budenholzer another versatile defender to use off the bench, making them all the more formidable on this side of the ball in the lineups with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, among others. Matthews has shown he’s never afraid to sacrifice his body by taking on a load or diving headfirst on a loose ball, bringing energy to the bench. Having someone who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work with plays and who is also willing to champion high profile stars will be a luxury for the Bucks going forward. According to NBA.com/stats, he currently keeps opposing players at just 37.1% from shots on the ground as the main defenseman.
On the other hand, Matthews has been an interesting player so far. No one expected a leading role in the offense to be in store for the newcomer, but he’s already pulled off more than a few big shots since arriving in Milwaukee. Of course, Matthews recently helped propel the shorthanded Bucks to a victory over the Houston Rockets by scoring 16 points on 6 of 7 shots from the ground, including 4 of 5 from deep.
In the Bucks ‘eventful Christmas Day game against the Boston Celtics, Matthews found himself in the Bucks’ closing roster, which worked incredibly well in the end as he sank a 3-point clutch for give them their first lead of the game with only 30 seconds left. He finished with nine points on 3 of 4 shots in the victory. While his important 3-point pointer will garner most of the praise, one of the main reasons the Bucks were even in that position to start was that coach Budenholzer began to tip his players on the defensive during these last few minutes. Someone like Matthews being on the floor in this situation is huge, and it showed yesterday that the Bucks have only given up five points in the last five minutes after he was saved.
Matthews did all of this under an unsecured deal for the Bucks. This contract made it a low risk, high return scenario from the start, and it is the last so far. If Matthews continues to play like this, the team will be forced to guarantee his deal and keep him in his home country. He’s already become a key cog in the rotation as he spent time in the Christmas Day game rotation on three regulars from Jordan Nwora, Semi Ojeleye and Rodney Hood. Whether it’s due to their previous stint with the Bucks or Matthews’ ability to help both sides of the ball, Budenholzer trusts the veteran, and it has shown it so far.
The 35-year-old’s second stint with the Bucks was emotional throughout the first few games as his grandmother recently passed away. Matthews told reporters after yesterday’s game that she was supposed to be present at the competition, which would have been the first time she had seen him in person since the start of the pandemic. He plays with a heavy heart whenever he’s on the floor, playing for her every moment.
Welcome back, Wes.