The Milwaukee Bucks ended last season with a championship. It was the first championship since the 1970s for the franchise. Now, they are entering this season ready to defend their title. In the preseason, they played two games. Firstly, they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, 87-77. After that, in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they lost to the Brooklyn Nets, 119-115.
While Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, among others, did not play, the Bucks were fairly close in both games. One colossal part of that was the player who might surprise most this season. His name is Jordan Nwora, and he has been the surprise of the preseason and training camp for the Bucks.
Bucks training camp surprise
Coming into training camp, Nwora was aware that this is an important season for him. After being selected with the 45th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, he signed a two-year deal. In the first year, he only featured in 30 games. In those 30, he played around 9.1 minutes per game in the regular season. In the playoffs, he only played five games and averaged just 3.0 points. It would be a surprise if the Bucks kept him on after this season, should he continue to get this amount of limited time.
However, if the preseason is any indication, Nwora might be in line for a solid year. In the two games he played, Nwora was able to score 30 points against the Nets and 16 against the Grizzlies. Both were team-highs, and the Grizzlies is especially impressive since rotation players like George Hill, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and Grayson Allen featured in that game. It was in a loss, of course, but since it is preseason, the Bucks are most likely not as concerned.
While the Bucks lost both games, coach Mike Budenholzer might be happy to have another rotation piece for the upcoming season. His roster has a ton of quality, but the forward positions might need additional help. In Nwora, the Bucks have a bonafide scorer that can light it up from the bench. While his NBA career is not something that he can be too proud of, his national career for Nigeria is cause for optimism.
In the national team, Jordan Nwora has a few scoring records and good performances. Overall, Nigeria did not perform well in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but Nwora scored in bunches. The Bucks might look at the game versus Germany, where Nwora had 33 points or the overall tournament where he averaged 21. In the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as a 21-year-old, he averaged around 11 points per game for the Nigerian team in two games.
Of course, it would be difficult to say right now whether he will be featured in all the games, or even become a steady part of the rotation. Regardless of that, Nwora has three more games in the preseason to give himself a shot. The Bucks are going to play the Utah Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Dallas Mavericks. In these games, since most of their stars will most likely not feature, Nwora has a unique opportunity to earn an extension.
What will also help Jordan Nwora out is his apparent friendship with Antetokounmpo. Of course, that alone does not earn him anything, but the NBA has had similar situations before. Fringe stars get better deals or fringe roster players get deals to remain in the team in accordance with their relationship to the star. Nwora and Antetokounmpo both have Nigerian roots and the Bucks want to keep the Greek Freak happy, so Nwora might be on the roster to stay.
Obviously, as it was outlined above, that alone will not earn him much. However, Nwora is showing a lot of maturity and a lot of will to remain part of the roster. In the game versus the Grizzlies, with a lot of standard rotation pieces in, he took the ball in his own hands and made sure that he showcases his worth to Budenholzer and his staff. That is the reason why Nwora might be one of the rotation pieces going into next season.
The Milwaukee Bucks will start their campaign for another title on opening night, October the 19th. They will face the Nets as they both want to have the best possible start of the season. It remains to be seen, of course, whether Nwora will be a part of the rotation that night, as the Bucks might really need some help scoring from the bench. However, regardless of whether he plays, Jordan Nwora can be proud of the effort he put into training camp and this part of preseason.