- Charles Gardner reports the Bucks are sending a full contingent to the Orlando pre-draft camp this week. Hammond will be joined by assistant GM Jeff Weltman and director of player personnel Dave Babcock in addition to Scott Skiles and the rest of the Bucks' coaching staff. Aside from kicking the tires on draft prospects and watching guys who might be available when the Bucks pick in the second round (37th overall), Hammond will also have a chance to talk trade with reps from the 29 other teams.
Chad Ford's latest mock draft has the Bucks nabbing UCLA combo guard Russell Westbrook:
It's tough to project the Bucks right now. New GM John Hammond is ready to make changes, but where does he start? Their biggest need is at small forward, but this is probably too high for Donte Greene or Joe Alexander.Westbrook is still somewhat raw offensively, having played the point sparingly at UCLA in addition to needing to improve his shooting range and half-court play in general. But he also ranks as the best perimeter defender in the draft (along with Kansas' Mario Chalmers) and his top-shelf athleticism should allow him to contribute immediately as his offensive game catches up.
One thing Hammond wants to emphasize is defense, and Westbrook could be an excellent addition. He can play both guard positions and be a Leandro Barbosa-type scoring threat.
Overall, Westbrook's size, athleticism and style would seem to be a good fit for the Bucks. Not only was perimeter defense a huge problem for the Bucks last year, but John Hammond and Scott Skiles had success with bigger, defensive-minded PGs in Detroit and Chicago, respectively. Then again, just because the Bucks need to improve their defense doesn't necessarily mean they should reach for Westbrook if a player like Chalmers could provide better value in the late first or early second. I'm a big fan of Westbrook's, but there's no doubt he's a ways from being a finished product.
- Thankfully, NBA.com is once again keeping track of all the mock drafts in one place. As you might guess there's definitely no consensus pick at number eight, as Danilo Gallinari (3), Kevin Love (2), DeAndre Jordan (2), Eric Gordon, Westbrook, Anthony Randolph and Joe Alexander are all getting votes right now.
- While virtually all the big names are skipping the actual basketball-playing portion of the camp, the most interesting thing to watch for are official measurements of the top prospects--the so-called "physical only" participants. The guys I'm most curious about are Love and Gordon. Love's reportedly lost weight since UCLA's final four run, which could help allay some fears about his average athleticism (though you never want to read too much into the physical testing data). It would also be a big blow if he measured shorter than 6'9", which is what he was listed at in college and would put him as an average-sized PF in the NBA.
Gordon meanwhile doesn't look like a guy capable of playing point in the NBA, so measuring at 6'4" or better would provide some assurances than he's big enough to play off guard in the NBA. He was listed at 6'3" or 6'4" in college, and measuring shorter than that certainly won't help his cause, especially given the Ben Gordon experience in Chicago.
- Some of the prominent names who won't be in Orlando at all: Danilo Gallinari, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Marreese Speights, Kosta Koufos, Chase Budinger, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, and Bill Walker. If you're curious about the guys who did actually come to play, check out the always intrepid Jonathan Givony's day one wrap-up.
- The Bleacher Report writes that Scott Skiles' ugly brand of basketball is just what Milwaukee needs. It's a pretty good read on the Bucks' situation, though it somewhat unfairly labels Skiles' teams as playing a boring, grind-it-out style. Skiles' Bulls teams weren't very efficient offensively, but they ranked 7th, 11th, 5th, and 6th in pace from 2003 to 2007. So while defense will be emphasized next year, don't expect the Bucks to be walking it up the court.