The Milwaukee Bucks should be a de facto favorite for the 2021-22 NBA championship since they are the defending champs. But with the competition getting stiffer and teams targeting the bullseye on their backs, winning two in a row will be a major challenge for the Bucks.
Some key pieces from their championship run unfortunately departed in free agency, particularly P.J. Tucker. That presents a huge opportunity for someone from Milwaukee’s crop of young guys to step in and grow into a bigger role. The Bucks have quite a number of breakout candidates this upcoming season. Donte DiVincenzo may be more motivated than ever to step up his game after missing the majority of Milwaukee’s run to the Finals, while Grayson Allen could step into a sizable role right away for his new squad. However, the player who looks poised for a breakout year is incoming sophomore forward Jordan Nwora.
For the majority of NBA fans, and even some Bucks fans as well, this may be the first time they have ever seen or heard of Jordan Nwora. Well, that’s because the Bucks barely used him during his rookie season. Selected by Milwaukee as the 45th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Nwora saw minimal playing time in his debut campaign, appearing in just 30 games while averaging 9.1 minutes per contest. The former Louisville standout should be able to gain more minutes and carve out a more consistent bench role this season with the departure of some veterans from last year’s squad.
There is a good reason why Nwora could be Milwaukee’s top breakout candidate. In the times he saw the floor, the 22-year-old flashed his scoring prowess. That was on full display in the Bucks’ final regular-season game, where he scored a career-best 34 points on 14-of-23 field goal shooting, all while draining four 3-pointers.
Take a look at every bucket he made from that game:
With this game at least, Nwora showcased great comfort in putting the ball on the floor and scoring off the dribble, whether it be in the form of stepback triples, sidestep jumpers, or drives to the basket. The 6-foot-8 forward also showed great activity and hustle on the offensive glass, and this generated some second-chance points for the Bucks.
In his rookie season, Nwora averaged per-36 numbers of 22.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.7 triples. He also shot 45.9 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from 3. Despite the small sample size, his promising shooting percentages suggest he is going to be an efficient sniper from beyond the arc.
His college percentages support this as well. Averaging 17.5 points in his sophomore and junior years, where he saw more playing time with the Louisville Cardinals, Nwora shot 38.7 percent from downtown in those two campaigns. His steady outside shooting will definitely come in handy while playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton.
Nwora took the momentum of a championship-winning rookie season into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the Nigerian Olympic squad. The Bucks forward led Nigeria in scoring, averaging 21.0 points and 4.0 triples in three games. This included a 33-point effort against Germany.
With his talent, more opportunities, and a solid showing in the Olympics, all signs point to Jordan Nwora having a breakout sophomore season for the Milwaukee Bucks.