The Bucks start practice with Grayson Allen and Jordan Nwora eager to show what they learned from last season

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It had been a while since Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen experienced an extended off-season, and he was starting to get a bit anxious.

The summer felt really long even after getting married, taking a honeymoon trip and having a minor procedure to fix the mobility of his left ring finger.

So Allen was glad to be back on the practice court on Monday, just over four months from when the Bucks' season ended in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

“It was nice," Allen said. "This was the first offseason for me where I’ve actually felt like I got full rest and was away and I was itching to get back at it.

"Because I’ve been traded twice and had a COVID offseason and then my first year. I haven’t had that break where it felt like ‘Dang this feels like a long time and I’m ready to get back out there.’ That’s what this summer was for me. A few months ago I was ready to get going and play again.”

Milwaukee is hoping its season lasts longer this time around, and the process starts with two practices on both Monday and Tuesday.

"I think we’re able to maybe just go a little harder," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "They’re probably in more game (and) basketball shape. So I think we scrimmaged more today. We played more today. We competed more today.

"Whereas it felt like the last couple off-seasons they weren’t able to get the five-on-fives and the open gyms and things like that. So you kind of had to maybe drill more or do other things that were getting them ready for the five-on-fives and just building up their conditioning. We had a good September so I think they were just more basketball-ready with this offseason.”

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The 6-foot-4 Allen is seeking some redemption from how last season ended. He averaged 11.4 points per game and Budenholzer said during the team's media day Sunday that Allen "crushed Year 1 in Milwaukee."

But after an injury to Khris Middleton forced Allen to play a significantly expanded role, he struggled against the bigger and more rugged Celtics.

“Looking at the end of the year, I think it just points out stuff you need to work on," Allen said. "Especially in the playoffs when we know everything they’re going to do, they know everything we’re going to do. It just gets that much tougher, that much more physical.

"So it just adds something in my head that I need to improve on. I have a whole regular season to work on that and then hopefully have another year that continues upward.”

Jordan Nwora also had plenty of time to think about what he has to prove this season. The 24-year-old signed a two-year deal on Monday and was able to suit up for the first practice.

"Not a lot of people know but I was out here pretty much most of the summer trying to figure this stuff out," Nwora said. "Feels good to have it behind me. It was definitely a long summer. A lot of things going back and forth between my agent and the front office here.”

Nwora averaged 7.9 points per game in his second season with the Bucks, but cracking the rotation has been hard with the sharpshooter struggling on defense. That's what he worked on as the details of his contract were worked out.

“I know I can play," Nwora said. "I’ve shown it. I’ve been out there with the starters and done a good job. I’ve played with the guys when people are out. You guys know what I can do.

“For me it’s just competing on the other end. If I get an opportunity this year, I’m going to make sure I’m not in a position where I’m putting myself back on the bench. I’m somebody who can play. I know I’m good enough. I know I belong on the court. It’s just about the little things that Bud needs me to do to play.”

That work of impressing his coach started on Monday.

"He’s maturing and he understands that it’s a big priority to get on the court for him to help us," Budenholzer said. "Everybody’s got to be able to defend at a high level. He’s got to prove it every day now in camp. He’s off to a good start.”

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Grayson Allen and Jordan Nwora hope to improve for Milwaukee Bucks