The Bucks requested waivers on Brian Skinner today, finalizing their roster at 15. In the process, Milwaukee has (for better or worse) displayed some level of commitment to second-round pick Darington Hobson, who will be retained despite likely missing the entire year to rehab his injured hips.
There are two major issues brought to light by Skinner's release. First, it would seem to suggest that Scott Skiles has a plan for dealing with the backup center problem in-house, barring a trade sometime soon. This will likely entail a somewhat platoon-esque approach, with a number of players splitting time behind Andrew Bogut. Jon Brockman, Drew Gooden, and maybe even Ersan Ilyasova or Larry Sanders are all likely candidates to split some time at the 5. In addition, this move seems like a vote of confidence for Bogut's health. I'd expect that if the Bucks were significantly concerned about his performance, they might have been more aggressive in shoring up a #2 center.
The other important issue concerns what the organization believes they have in Darington Hobson. The immediate opinions after Milwaukee selected Hobson with the 37th pick in last year's draft were positive - Hobson was arguably a late first-round talent depending on the system he was inserted in, but a lack of athleticism or defined skills/position slid him back into the second round.
Hit the jump for some unfounded thoughts on Hobson's future potential.
Hobson took a somewhat strange route up the basketball ladder. He attended five different high schools before electing to attend the College of Eastern Utah, where he averaged 15.2 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.
When he finally wound up at the University of New Mexico, he had big expectations to carry that team to the NCAA Tournament and make a deep run. Hobson, for his part, delivered with an excellent season. Playing in all 35 games, Hobson increased his scoring to 15.9 ppg and led the team in rebounding with 9.3 a game, while also adding 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game.
The knocks came against his shooting (only 44% from the floor, 65% from the line) and his physique. At 6-7, he fits best as a swingman. But weighing only 207 lbs, would he be able to stand up against the physical wings he would encounter in the NBA?
Still, those college numbers are tantalizing. While the competition he faced in the Mountain West Conference wasn't exactly top-notch, Hobson showed up big-time in the Lobo's biggest games and was undeniably one of the conferences premiere players. Against then-number 11 BYU, he went for 20/14 and blocked BYU's game-tying shot attempt in the final seconds. In New Mexico's MWC-tournament opening game (albeit against Air Force), he had 28 and 15. While Hobson's scoring dropped off in the Big Dance (11 points in both games), he still averaged a double-double by chipping in 11 and 9 rebounds against Montana and Washington, respectively.
What's important to remember is that Hobson racked up those numbers while operating as a primary ballhandler for New Mexico. Before you think his assist numbers suggest a sub-par ability to distribute, consider that the college assist leader last year (Ronald Moore from Siena) averaged only 7.8 a game, and only 7 other players broke the 6.0 benchmark. Hobson also managed a respectable 1.54 A/TO ratio.
But will those numbers translate, even partially, to the NBA? Consider a guy similar (if more impressive) to Darington: National Player of the Year Evan Turner. All the same positives (versatile scorer, rebounder, distributor) and negatives (Does he have a position? Can he create and make his own shot?), and he went 2nd overall. Now, Darington Hobson certainly didn't perform at the same level as Turner, but he fits the same mold.
I don't know if Hobson has the skills or size to excel at a wing position in a "point-forward" role. Most players who make a name for themselves playing that kind of game are true superstars, and nobody expects Hobson to become an All-Star.
What has me excited, though? What if he can work on his ballhandling and play in a backup point guard role? A 6-7 point guard who rebounds like a SF and is a passable 3PT threat? Exciting. Consider also Skiles' penchant for multi-point guard sets, which worked well with Jennings and Ridnour last year. Pairing Jennings and Hobson in the backcourt could create significant mismatches, stretch the floor, and give the Bucks two capable ballhandlers while strengthening their presence on the boards.
Of course, this is all dependent of Hobson returning to the Bucks next season ready to work on his game. Currently buried behind Milwaukee's deep rotation, Hobson isn't going to see the court on this roster unless he forces his way in or the Bucks make moves in the future to open some playing time. But for the time being, Milwaukee thinks highly enough of his potential to hang on to him, potentially at the expense of a critical piece of the roster.