Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Nwora poised to have breakout season

As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare to defend their first NBA championship since 1971, sophomore wing Jordan Nwora seems to be trending toward earning a consistent rotational role off the bench this season.

In the preseason thus far, the Bucks have piled up the injury report with most of the starters and expected rotation out due to lingering injuries, soreness, or rest. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday just made their first appearance against Oklahoma City on Sunday evening while Donte DiVincenzo, Bobby Portis, Rodney Hood, and Semi Ojeleye have all yet to be active with opening night looming right around the corner on October 19th.

However, their absences have allowed the young guys and reserves a chance to steal the spotlight, and some have impressively stepped up. Jordan Nwora has headlined the top of that list as the 23-year-old stud continues to take advantage of his preseason opportunities.

As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare to begin the 2021-22 NBA season as defending champions, Jordan Nwora looks ready to claim a consistent rotational role.

Last season, Nwora was rarely featured during games outside of garbage time. As a rookie out of Louisville, it wasn’t really expected since the Bucks were already a deep, experienced team. He was able to play in 30 contests, averaging 5.9 points and shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point land across 9.1 minutes per game, but those opportunities were mostly non-meaningful.

Nevertheless, Nwora stood out in the analytics department by averaging 22.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. Although the 45th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft didn’t have a dignified role on last year’s title-clinching squad, that should all change this season.

Nwora has had a busy offseason, flying to Tokyo after celebrating the championship triumph to compete in the Olympics for Nigeria, where many eyes were caught by his rumbling scoring outbursts. Then shortly following the Olympics, the young sharpshooter balled out for the Bucks during summer league, and now, he’s showcasing his promising skill set throughout this preseason.

Most notably, Nwora tallied 30 points and eight rebounds on 11-of-21 field goals and six 3’s against Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets last Friday night.

A walking bucket indeed, Jordan Nwora continues to impress as a lethal scoring threat on the floor. He’s become more and more comfortable hunting defenders off the dribble, creating space to launch quick-release jump shots, and making the right decisions with the ball.

It’s been known that Nwora can serve as an offensive grenade waiting to explode with his abilities to score from all angles, but his passing, awareness, defensive mechanics, and overall decision-making have been the main points of improvement needed for him to take the next step in his career. He’s slowly progressing in those areas while learning each and every day with this Milwaukee Bucks team that has outstanding mentors for him, especially Khris Middleton, who was also a former second-round pick.

There’s obviously still much room for improvement, but Nwora has made a clear-cut case to earn consistent rotational minutes throughout this upcoming season. Milwaukee has yet another deep squad even after reshaping the supporting cast, but Nwora has taken a big enough leap to be involved in waves of non-garbage time minutes this year.

He’s proving himself worthy to head coach Mike Budenholzer. The Bucks should utilize him in sets similar to how Bryn Forbes was used last season (dribble handoffs, back screens) or other offensive-minded schemes that match his score-first mentality. Either way, Nwora’s abilities can be a legitimate asset to the Milwaukee Bucks moving forward.

It’s also important to note that Jordan Nwora is entering the last year on his two-year, $2.4 million rookie contract, so Milwaukee will have to make a decision on him following this season. They’ll have his bird rights, but the Bucks face the same scenario with guards Donte DiVincenzo and Grayson Allen. As of now, it may not be a realistic option to extend all three of them with the franchise trenched in the luxury tax.

Evidently, this will be a massive year for Nwora to showcase his talents. With his preseason performances consisting of promise, swagger, and a boatload of points, he’s at least earned a chance to be featured in Milwaukee’s constant rotation. As the 2021-22 season inches closer, Jordan Nwora seems poised to breakout for the reigning champions.