Milwaukee’s second round draft pick, Sandro Mamukelashvili, surprised many fans during the pre-season with his high level play on both sides of the court. Many (myself included) believed the young forward was ahead of schedule and could see regular minutes during the season. Despite receiving playing time due to injuries, many fans have expressed disappointed with Mamu’s performance thus far. Regardless, Bucks fans should still be optimistic about Mamu’s future, but they should measure their expectations.
Short Term Outlook
Fans expressed some surprise when Mamu only received a 2 Way Contract instead of a full roster spot. This isn’t overly surprising given his strong performances during the preseason. Despite that, it’s important to remember that preseason barely resembles the regular season. Star players play limited minutes (if they see the court at all). When they do play, they rarely play as hard as they normally would during the season. Mamu and other rookie players put their full effort into these games. Impressing in the preseason can go a long way in securing a contract and a roster spot.
With the regular season well underway, Mamu is getting exposed on both sides of the court. Although it’s disappointing to watch. this shouldn’t be surprising. A second round draft pick should be dominated by star big men like Domantas Sabonis. The only reason Coach Budenholzer kept Mamu on the court is due to the significant injuries the Bucks suffered entering the season. Mamu’s problems aren’t due to a lack of effort or talent, but he needs significant development before he can stand toe-to-toe with experienced opponents.
As players like Bobby Portis, Semi Ojeleye, and Brook Lopez return to the floor, Mamu will see less playing time. Eventually, he will be sent to Oshkosh to play for the Wisconsin Herd. This will be good for Mamu as it will allow him to develop his skills against other players at his level. Once he’s in Oshkosh, Bucks fans shouldn’t expect to see much of him for the remainder of the season.
Long Term Outlook
I once heard Mamu described as “a poor man’s Jokić” and I believe that’s accurate. Mamu can shoot, drive, and defend as the quintessential modern big man. Despite his potential, however, Mamu should be seen as a project. He might reach the same heights as fellow second round pick, Nikola Jokić, or he might not. Only time will tell.
Ultimately, I expect that Mamu will evolve into an All Star level player in 4 or 5 years. There is, unfortunately, a chance he will not reach that level with the Bucks. Milwaukee is not a team developing for the future. The Bucks are currently in a championship window that will last as long as the Giannis/Middleton/Holiday trio. Therefore, it’s very possible Mamu will be part of a trade at some point. Although I hope the Bucks keep and develop him (as they’ve done with Jordan Nwora), it’s more important that the Bucks use what they have for midseason trades that will help them in the playoffs.
Regardless, Sandro Mamukelashvili’s future is bright whether he continues to wear a Bucks uniform or not. It will just take time.
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