Milwaukee Bucks

How much does P.J. Tucker move the needle for the Milwaukee Bucks?

It looks like P.J. Tucker's wish has been granted.

The Houston Rockets have traded Tucker to the Bucks along with Rodions Kurucs and Milwaukee's own 2022 first-round pick.

In return, the Rockets will receive DJ Augustin, DJ Wilson, a 2023 unprotected first-round pick and swap rights in 2021.

MORE: Most notable trade deadline deals since 2000

Tucker is having the worst season of his career, but he's long been one of the league's best role players. A number of contenders were reportedly interested in him ahead of this season's trade deadline, including the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

Even though the Bucks weren't one of the four teams I thought needed Tucker the most, he checks two important boxes for them.

The first? He's an elite defender.

The Bucks are already one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, but Tucker gives them even more versatility on that end of the court. While he's never made an All-Defense Team in his career, he's one of few players who can legitimately guard four positions. Him being able to hold his own against bigs allowed the Rockets to go all-in on small ball last season, and he's not someone you have to be concerned about defending a guard on an island.

"He's still a physical motherf- who can guard 2-5," a Western Conference official told Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer about Tucker. "I don't think he can guard Dame Lillard for 48 minutes like he did three years ago, but on a game's last possession, he can. Therein lies his value."

Tucker's switchability will come in handy for the Bucks in the postseason, As ESPN's Kevin Pelton noted, Milwaukee switched on 7.0 percent of the pick-and-rolls it defended in last season's playoffs, which was the lowest rate in the league. They've been switching a little more this season in preparation for the playoffs, but the Bucks are never going to be a switch-heavy team as long as Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis make up their centre rotation.

In acquiring Tucker, the Bucks can at least now roll out lineups that feature multiple switchy defenders, pairing him with Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and one of Donte DiVincenzo or Pat Connaughton. It might not be something the Bucks go to against every team in the league, but it's easy to imagine them breaking it out should they face a team like Brooklyn, Miami or Boston, especially at the end of games.

MORE: The most interesting teams at the trade deadline

The second box Tucker checks for the Bucks? He's a proven 3-point shooter.

Since 2017-18, almost three-quarters (71.1 percent) of Tucker's field goal attempts have been 3s, and he's made 36.5 percent of those opportunities. He doesn't offer much more than 3-point shooting on offence, but that shouldn't be a problem in Milwaukee, where he'll share the court with three playmakers in Holiday, Middleton and Antetokounmpo. It helps that Tucker has plenty of experience playing next to top-end talent, having been teammates with James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul in Houston.

Filling an almost identical role with the Bucks as a floor spacer, there should be little-to-no adjustment period.

It is worrying that Tucker is shooting a career-low 31.4 percent from 3-point range this season - again, he doesn't offer much on than 3-point shooting on offence, so he becomes a liability on offence if those shots aren't falling - but the Bucks are banking on a change in scenery helping him regain his shooting touch.

Tucker should have plenty of motivation to show up as well. Not only did he reportedly want to be traded to a contender, he will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Whether he's hoping to stay in Milwaukee long-term or maximize his value elsewhere, helping the Bucks in their quest to win the championship will only lead to good things for him in free agency.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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