Wilson carving out significant role in Bucks’ rotation

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 12th edition of the 2018-19 Young Bucks Tracker.

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SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward D.J. Wilson

Wilson rarely got a chance to shine as a rookie, playing few meaningful minutes under former head coach Jason Kidd and interim successor Joe Prunty.

He ultimately played 22 games, logging more than 10 minutes of action just twice.

That continued throughout his first two months under head coach Mike Budenholzer.

Wilson finally played his way into Budenholzer’s rotation back in December, and has since carved out a role more in line with his draft stock.

Wilson is beginning to put that 6-foot-10 frame to better use: He’s nearly doubled his total rebound percentage, going from 8.3 percent as a rookie to 14.3 percent through 18 games this season.

As with most members of Budenholzer’s offense, his shooting stands out, too.

Wilson scored a career-high 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 22:56 during a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 16.

A previously overlooked guy like Wilson playing well would be cause for celebration regardless of the circumstances, but his performance was key with the Bucks pulling away during the third quarter.

Eric Bledsoe sparked a 19-point run that began with the Bucks trailing 59-58, pushing the lead to 77-59 win a 3-pointer at the 4:14 mark.

Memphis began to push back, making four straight buckets, but Wilson nullified the threat, making back-to-back 3-point tries and prompting a Grizzlies timeout with a dunk.

He struck again with a 20-footer after Malcolm Brogdon, George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova checked in with 1:39 left in the third.

“I think it just started on the defensive end,” Wilson said after the game. “That’s where we got a lot of our energy.”

He wasn’t bad there either, managing a pair of blocks.

All of that adds up to an efficiency rating of 13.8 on the year, just below the league average.

With the Bucks currently atop the NBA, that’s just what Budenholzer’s rotation needs.

BUCKSHOTS

— Giannis did what Giannis does in his first meeting with rookie wunderkind Luka Doncic. Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. He put Doncic on a poster late in the game, a solid souvenir for the budding star.

— Malcolm Brogdon is still on pace to join the extremely exclusive 50-40-90 club, and is now shooting 51.7 percent from the field, 42.2 percent from deep and 96 percent from the foul line.

— Christian Wood had 30-plus points in back-to-back games for the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks’ G League affiliate, last week. The 23-year-old scored 34 points on 15-of-25 shooting in a win over Capital City on Saturday. He scored 33 points on 8-of-22 shooting in a win over Windy City on Wednesday, making 15 of 17 free-throw attempts.

— Thon Maker hasn’t had much to do recently, playing just 8:36 against Memphis last week, sitting against Orlando and playing just 4:02 against Dallas on Monday.