Beauchamp to the Bucks: How MarJon Fits in Milwaukee

There’s a lot to like about MarJon Beauchamp. The Milwaukee Bucks clearly agree, enough to use their first round pick in the NBA Draft to select him at 24th overall. Running up to the draft, there was much speculation about general manager Jon Horst’s intentions with the pick, and many of us expected him to trade down to extract more value and refill the future draft capital that the Bucks sorely lack.

It doesn’t appear that Beauchamp expects to be moved in the coming weeks, and based on how highly Horst and Milt Newton spoke of him, we shouldn’t expect Beauchamp to do anything but travel to Milwaukee and prepare for the Summer League. So with that in mind, what does Beauchamp bring to the Bucks?

On Defense

MarJon Beauchamp has the requisite frame for an NBA wing. At 6’6.5 ”and a nearly-7’1” wingspan, he has the range to put up resistance all over the floor, but at about 200 lbs. he’s bordering on “undersized” if ever matched up with a larger frontcourt opponent. Length can make up for weight in some cases, but larger covers will probably try to put him under the rim. Fortunately for the Bucks, MarJon is a fierce competitor on the defensive end and immediately projects as at least a decent defender in the pros. He’s stronger than his measurables would suggest, and his immeasurables (toughness, motor, grit, etc.) are top-notch. Effort is never going to be a question for Beauchamp.

His length is particularly useful when covering driving perimeter players; Beauchamp mirrors the offensive player well and keeps in-step with them while using his chest to maintain contact and his arms to contest the airspace. Can he do this at the NBA level without fouling? His time in the G-League would suggest that he can; Beauchamp committed only 2.4 fouls per 36 minutes with the Ignite, suggesting he can effectively defend without fouling, a staple of Mike Budenholzer’s defenses. He’s also a strong rebounder for his position, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game (second on his team) which is another hallmark of Coach Bud’s preferred player archetype.

In general, MarJon is strong enough, smart enough, and feisty enough to find success in a number of different defensive coverages. He can cover one-on-one, he can switch, he can navigate screens. He seems to want to take on the assignment of “best opposing wing” and has a good chance at successfully covering them, or at the very least forcing them to spend more effort than they may like. We saw this sort of result with PJ Tucker against Kevin Durant two years ago, and with Wes Matthews against Jayson Tatum in the conference semifinals; guys that Beauchamp covers may “get theirs,” but they will work for it. He has great tools for on-ball defense, but his off-ball defense will probably require some work, especially diagnosing and executing proper rotations and double-teams. Beauchamp has a reputation as an “over-helper,” which Bucks fans are not thrilled to hear. Donte DiVincenzo was often cited as one of the worst offenders, as is current Bucks guard Grayson Allen. On the flip side, Pat Connaughton seems to have shaken off those habits and become much more reliable defensively; hopefully that is a path Beauchamp can emulate.

On Offense

How you gauge MarJon Beauchamp’s offensive potential largely depends on what you expect him to be in the NBA. If you expect Beauchamp to take on a lead offensive role and shoulder most of the scoring burden, you will be sorely disappointed. Beauchamp is a low-usage wing (17.0% in the G-League) who ranked eleventh on his team in shot attempts per 36 minutes (10.9 FGA). Admittedly, MarJon took on way more responsibility before joining the Ignite, scoring 30+ points a game at his community college, but his time in the G-League is far more indicative of his offensive role at the professional level.

Let’s cover what Beauchamp is good at: he’s efficient with most of the shots he takes and converts them at a respectable rate. His true shooting percentage (0.635) and effective field goal percentage (0.602) paint the picture of a guy who sticks to his spots, most of which are inside the arc and close to the basket. He is a capable straight-line driver with the ball and a very good cutter without it; most of his buckets are set up by teammates but he does a great job paying off the passes he receives. On a team where most of the playmaking is managed by the three stars (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday), Beauchamp will fit in just fine as a tertiary offensive option. He should find himself right at home moving between Bud’s Blue Boxes and along the baseline (dunker’s spot!), Filling gaps in the defense and finding points in the flow of the game.

But seriously, that’s where he is right now and in all likelihood that’s where Beauchamp will plateau. He’s not an offensive hub or a playmaker (assist-turnover ratio of 1.1: 1) and while he’s a willing passer, he’s not a good passer. There isn’t much of a midrange game to speak of, he doesn’t draw fouls (free throw rate of 0.150, which is low), and his outside shooting is highly suspect. He doesn’t take a tone of threes (three point attempt rate of only 0.248) … but that number is higher than his actual three-point percentage in the G-League (24.2%). There might be light at the end of that tunnel; MarJon hit 38.9% of his attempts the year before at Yakima Valley Community College, but that’s a much shorter line against much weaker competition. As with most things, the truth is likely somewhere in between, and where Beauchamp’s shot lands will determine his long-term viability as an NBA wing. Opponents are going to sag off of him and dare him to shoot regardless; a MarJon Beauchamp who can make them pay (35% or better) is significantly more useful than one who cannot (34% or worse). Fortunately, the Bucks development staff have time to work through this with him.

In Transition

This is where Beauchamp’s energy and effort really shines. Beauchamp is a relentless transition player, especially on offense. Similar to Bobby Portis during his tenure with the Bucks, Beauchamp takes pride in hustling down the floor and filling a lane, either to create an opportunity for himself or to pull the defense away from a teammate. He’s both quick and fast, and when he’s the ball handler in transition possessions Beauchamp generally makes the right play. He’s prone to tunnel vision at times, but it’s normal for players as athletic as MarJon to think he can score over whoever is in his way. He’s not Giannis, but he’s still pretty dang good. When defending in transition, the strengths we detailed earlier translate as Beauchamp turns his length and willingness to maintain contact into additional barriers for the offense, rarely conceding an advantageous shot before the defense is set in the half court.

Overall

In all likelihood, what you see is what you get with MarJon Beauchamp. He’s a stellar athlete with both the tools and the hunger to develop his game, and he projects to be a valuable defender on the perimeter. Beauchamp will disrupt opposing offenses and play his role when the Bucks have the ball; his time in the G-League playing alongside more ball-dominant teammates did much to prepare him for the environment he’s joining in Milwaukee. He’s not a perfect decision-maker, but he’s a smart player who clearly dedicates himself to improvement.

It’s going to come down to shooting. Can the Bucks afford to play a non-shooter alongside Giannis in the playoffs? Most would say that the margin of error is too thin for that … even if that’s basically what they did with PJ Tucker on the road to the 2021 NBA Finals. Fortunately for Beauchamp, he offers much of the same type of strengths that Tucker offered, even if not to the same degree. Many have described shooting as Beauchamp’s “swing skill” and as unfair as it might be to a guy who just got drafted, it’s hard to argue with that assessment. If Beauchamp can take and make threes at a reasonable rate, he could have a long and productive NBA career. If not, MarJon Beauchamp would risk becoming another name added to the list of draft picks that could not develop into contributors with Milwaukee.

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