The Wisconsin Badgers lost an underrated, but key part of their depth when backup point guard Kamari McGee took two untimely falls against the Indiana Hoosiers with the latter mishap leaving him limping off the court and returning in a walking boot.
While playing in just 6.9 minutes per game, McGee has been the primary backup point guard to Chucky Hepburn this season, making the most of his opportunities with valuable defense and control of the offense when on the court.
That was the case in his last game, as McGee had recorded four points, two rebounds, an assist, and two steals in just 10 minutes of action before leaving with his injury.
What’s the latest timeline for his return to action?
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, head coach Greg Gard acknowledged that it’ll still be at least two weeks before McGee will be ready, leaving others, such as Isaac Lindsey, Max Klesmit, and John Blackwell to man the backup point guard role in his absence.
“I think we’re at least two-plus weeks out, I would say, probably from Kamari [returning], and we’ll see as we go down the road,” Gard shared on Wednesday.
“You know, Isaac [Lindsey’s] worked a little bit there [in the backup point guard role]. I’ve used Max [Klesmit] there, I used John [Blackwell] a little bit there today in [practice].
Now, Gard acknowledged that the Badgers don’t always need a true point guard to facilitate their offense, while the presence of Chucky Hepburn makes things easier at the position.
“I think some of the stuff we’re doing, Chucky obviously is as good as there is at doing the things we need for that position. But, a lot of what we do offensively within the system doesn’t require a pure point guard. We just need guys that can move the ball and get it side to side. It’s the leadership and the experience and the decision-making that Chucky brings and what he does defensively.”
However, the defensive effort that McGee had brought to the Badgers had been creating a spark, which can’t be replicated by the other available players on the roster.
“And that’s the thing that Kamari brought to us. I thought he was really finding a rhythm and a niche of what he was doing defensively for us and creating a spark. So the other guys just don’t play like he plays in terms of how he’s built and how he moves,” Gard said.
“So we just have to have other guys step up and help out.”
Lindsey played four minutes in the win over Minnesota, while seeing three minutes of action against Michigan State as the backup point guard.
Meanwhile, Hepburn saw upticks in his role, playing 35 minutes in a close battle against the Gophers, while seeing 32 minutes of action against the Spartans in the team’s 15-point victory.
Consequently, Max Klesmit also had increases in playing time from his average of 27 minutes a night, seeing 32 minutes in both of the wins last weekend for the Badgers.
With the stretch run coming soon, it appears the Badgers are beginning to rely on their starters a little more, which could help with some of McGee’s minutes, but his presence, or lack of, is a missing piece for Wisconsin looking to gain stability ahead of March.