While the anticipation for the return of Milwaukee Bucks basketball is (understandably) huge, you should also look forward to the return of its G League partner, the Wisconsin Herd. Sure, they’re not the defending champions of their league, but there’s a good reason fans should keep an eye on the herd this season and beyond.
Bucks fans have not seen their partner since the league closed due to the pandemic in 2019 as the organization chose not to put the team in the G-League bubble last year. It was a questionable decision as it forced young players like Jordan Nwora to play for the subsidiary of another organization, which didn’t guarantee minutes for development.
The Herd is back for this season and after some off-season changes to the coaching staff and front office, it seems poised to reclaim their position as one of the best teams in the G League. However, that’s not why fans should be most intrigued when the organization’s subsidiary is around.
Reclaiming the herd is very important to the long term success of the Bucks and helps keep their championship window open. This may sound dramatic, and I’m not trying to say that without the herd, the Bucks would be screwed in the long run, but having them back helps on several fronts.
The Importance of the Wisconsin Herd to the Milwaukee Bucks
As I’ve written in the past, the Bucks have helped keep their championship window open a little longer for the last two offseasons (mostly the last one) by adding prime-age players as rotation players rather than older veterans who could be cheaper be, but have less in the tank.
It’s a similar idea for the flock, except this is a much longer plan and we won’t see the fruits for a few years. With the Bucks trading away most of their significant draft capital over the past couple of seasons, they have been forced to draft mostly in the second round since they won Donte DiVincenzo a few years ago before becoming contenders.
It’s already especially hard for a young player to get minutes on a competing team, as DiVincenzo found out in his rookie season, but even harder when you’re a mid to late second-round pick like Nwora, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Georgios Kalaitzakis .
While we all want to see these guys get minutes in NBA games, the fact is that there isn’t much time available for at least the two rookies. Kalaitzakis faces an uphill battle in a crowded wing space that Nwora also struggles with, although second grader Nwora is much further ahead. We looked at what to expect from Kalaitzakis in the first year and, to cut a long story short, not much in the NBA right away.
Buck’s general manager Jon Horst recently spoke about Mamukelashvili and how it will be difficult for him to level the line between development and NBA minutes. It’s clear they want him to play right away in some ways, but most of his development is completed with the herd. This is where the G League partner will see its importance as it has the ability to give guys like the Bucks three young players real minutes to develop their skills and familiarize themselves with what the Bucks do in the NBA want to do.
Milwaukee also has their first-round pick for the 2022 draft, a pick that I hope the Bucks will end up picking a player to not trade back with. While it’s great that they add younger rotation players instead of going for veterans, one of the best ways for a championship team to keep competing at this level with limited resources (both financially and in terms of assets) is to do so , the production of. get guys with rookie contracts.
I don’t want to look too much at other teams, but what the Brooklyn Nets did in this last draft to attract young players like Cam Thomas and Day’ron Sharpe are things Bucks should be doing in the future. It’s one thing to have multiple bites of the apple with round two late picks, but we’ve seen the success rate with these picks is very low.
While the herd is a way to try and develop them and mitigate the low hit percentage on late second rounds, being able to get a non-lottery selection for the first round is a better option for long term success.
I don’t expect the Bucks to add a superstar with a late first round pick or for the herd to magically turn their late second round fliers into solid NBA players, but this development system is very important to see if you spin can any of these players turn to cheap rotation types that may help in the not too distant future.
The Herd hasn’t announced their roster yet, but you can be sure that the aforementioned young players will be hanging out with them this year, in addition to whoever wins the other two-way contract spot.