With just a few days left before the NBA Draft, we've had a lot of coverage focused on the first round and the many potential prospects who could be donning this hat Thursday night. But our efforts have been top-heavy; there's still a whole second round to consider!
Now, the second round is difficult enough to predict or project in a draft that isn't being constantly lambasted for a general dearth of talent. In a supposedly shallow draft such as this year's, it might be most easily accomplished with pictures stuck to a dartboard, targeted by a guy wearing a blindfold.
But there are always good players to be found, and the Bucks have shown an occasional knack for finding these diamonds-in-the-rough. Michael Redd (43rd overall), Ersan Ilyasova (36th), and Luc Mbah a Moute (37th) are all productive players grabbed out of the abyss. John Hammond has taken some heat for "blowing" his many second round picks in last year's draft, so what better way to reenter our good graces than by nailing #40 this year?
With the Bucks seemingly prepared to draft a wing player with the tenth pick, the second round is more likely to be a depth pick. There also the chance of grabbing a highly-rated player who slips into the second round for any number of reasons. Rather than scouting individual players, let's consider what the Bucks should be looking for in an ideal second round pick.
Position: PF/C or PG
The wings are crowded in Milwaukee, and we're all familiar with the logjam at power forward. If Milwaukee does go with a swingman in the first round, the priority in the second should be a big man or a PG with some size and shooting ability. Scott Skiles has an obvious affinity for ball-handlers and loves playing lineups with two lead guards. Keyon Dooling is still under contract for the coming season, but Earl Boykins isn't guaranteed to be around next year. While Boykins gave the Bucks about as much production out of a third-string point guard as they could have hoped, not to mention one of the more stunningly exciting games of last season, he's still limited by his size. On the other end of the spectrum, the backup center position is still a question mark. Ideally Drew Gooden and Jon Brockman wouldn't be required to slide over when Bogut leaves the game, but a lack of prototypical size necessitated some interesting lineups last year. A big, bulky 7-footer would come in handy to spell Bogut and allow Milwaukee's 4s to stay put.
Skills: Defense and Shooting
With Jennings and Dooling combining for about 50% true-shooting, the Bucks seem desperate for a PG who can knock down a few shots. Floor spacing was a consistent issue and probably limited the ability of slashers like Corey Maggette, which may have in turn resulted in his propensity to commit offensive fouls. The ability to stretch the floor with the second unit would be very valuable.
As far as backup center is concerned, the Bucks have to get solid defense from whoever backs up Bogut. When Andrew went to the bench last season, the Bucks' defense gave up 3.6 more points per 100 possessions than when he was on the court. With the height-challenged Brockman or miscast Drew Gooden often relegated to duty in the pivot, that isn't a difficult number to understand. Finding a true big man to step in would provide a boost to the defense without killing the depth at PF.
There are a few high-profile guards projected in the early second round who could seemingly fit the bill. Nolan Smith of Duke and Shelvin Mack of Butler are popular choices, and both would bring great experience to the position. Darrius Morris of Michigan brings great size to the position and is only 20 years old, though he's likely to be gone by #40. Among those who have worked out in Milwaukee, a trio of bigger point guards stand out. College of Charleston scoring machine Andrew Goudelock worked out for the Bucks back on June 1, Milwaukee native and Iowa State alum Diante Garrett followed suit on June 2, and Texas freshman Corey Joseph was in town on June 4. Odds are none of them would be able to displace Dooling next year or match Boykins' surprising productivity in 10/11, but they would offer cheap depth with the possibility of developing into valuable rotation players over the longer term.
Second-round big men are often drafted on potential and physical ability, and the Bucks have worked out a few, including Trey Thompkins and Keith Benson. There's also Jeremy Tyler, who followed the Brandon Jennings trend of skipping college to play professionally in Europe. There are character concerns with Tyler, but his physical skills and talent are highly regarded, making him a hot sleeper pick.
There are plenty of other players who could fill roles for the Bucks off the bench, too many for us to know much of anything about any of them! We can only hope that John Hammond & Co. have done their due diligence and can snag a productive player with their late pick.