Brown showing what he can do (again) for Bucks

Welcome to the 2018-19 edition of the Young Bucks Tracker. Each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the players who might be of help to the Bucks in the future from the Wisconsin Herd or a current member of the Milwaukee roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 6th edition of the 2018-19 Young Bucks Tracker.

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Guard Sterling Brown

Brown has been through this rodeo before.

Last season as a rookie, the former SMU guard and second-round pick spent the first half of Milwaukee’s season primarily on the bench. He was inactive or did not play in 21 of the Bucks’ first 26 games and when he did play, he averaged just 7.1 minutes over his first 14 NBA games.

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But then in his next 28 games, from Jan. 10-March 12, he averaged 19.6 minutes.

With a new coach in Mike Budenholzer and a first-round pick in Donte DiVincenzo, who plays the same position, it was unsure what Brown’s role would be in 2018-19. At the start, it was once again on the bench. Brown played in only half of Milwaukee’s first 14 games and averaged only 5.8 minutes when he did see action.

Brown played in the next six games (11.1 minutes per) before sitting out on Nov. 28 in a win at home over Chicago. But since then, he’s become a part of the regular rotation.

Brown got some extra playing time Dec. 1 and Dec. 5 with Khris Middleton benched and then sidelined, but even with Middleton returning Brown has seen a lot of the court, especially lately.

In the six games since he sat out against the Bulls, Brown is averaging 22.7 minutes, 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field (including 9-of-18 from 3-point range). He also has seven assists with no turnovers and a 132 offensive rating (for reference, Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks with a 136 ORtg this season; no other regular has better than a 121) and 106 defensive rating in that span.

In Monday’s win over Cleveland, Brown set season highs with 30 1/2 minutes played, 12 points and eight rebounds. He followed that up two days later with eight points and four rebounds in 27:24 at Indiana. Brown has a positive box score plus/minus in each of his last three games (+22 combined) and in four of his last five games.

While Brown’s per game averages are very similar to last season’s, he’s actually making better use of his time as his per 36 averages in points, rebounds and assists have increased. He’s also shooting better from the field (47.2 percent compared to 40.0 percent last season), which is also represented in a higher true shooting percentage (57.6 percent this year; 50.3 percent in 2017-18), and has a 2.0 increase in his player efficiency rating (PER).

Brown’s playing time curtailed at the end of last season and it remains to be seen how much time he’ll continue to receive with DiVincenzo and newly acquired George Hill on the roster, but it’s pretty clear that if given the chance, Brown will be a valued contributor to the Bucks.

BUCKSHOTS

— Antetokounmpo has three straight double-doubles and 10 in his last 11 games. His 19 double-doubles on the season are tied for fourth-most in the NBA.

— 2017 first-round pick D.J. Wilson played a career-high 13:09 against Cleveland and scored seven points. He had 14 points in two games (on 5-of-7 shooting). Last season Wilson tallied 21 points in 22 games. Wilson also played two games for the Wisconsin Herd, scoring 27 points combined.

— Travis Trice, the older brother of Wisconsin Badgers guard D’Mitrik Trice, recorded the first triple-double in Herd history. In a 119-118 three-overtime win over Maine on Dec. 8, Trice had 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He also added five steals for good measure.

Christian Wood would surely rather be playing in the NBA, but he’s putting up big numbers in the G League. Wood has played in just six games for Milwaukee and none last week as he spent his entire time with the Herd. All he did was record 33 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks, then 34 points and 18 rebounds and finally 34 points and 12 rebounds. Wood is averaging 27.3 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in seven games with Wisconsin. His per 36 minutes numbers with the Bucks? 24.3 points and 15.6 rebounds.

— Herd guard and former Marquette star Vander Blue moved into second place on the G League’s all-time scoring list.