Imig: Bucks tantalized by skills of UNC's Henson
Either the Bucks are blatantly smokescreening the hell out of everyone, or they are just plain in love with North Carolina power forward John Henson (6'10.5" in shoes, 7'5" wingspan, DX #11). Billy McKinney raved about Henson following his workout against a number of lesser prospects on Tuesday (see Jim Paschke's video report), with McKinney going so far as to dismiss the possibility of Henson even being available when the Bucks select--(nevermind that the mock drafts suggest it's quite possible). Writing at Fox Sports Wisconsin, Paul Imig reports:
"If teams saw what we did today, I suspect that he won't be there at 12," McKinney said. "Obviously we like him, but he's not going to be there at 12 when we select. It's a matter of, is it practical for us to move up? The teams that are ahead of us probably value him as much as we would."
Keep in mind that McKinney has a history of being sly with his public comments around draft time, with his indifference towards Larry Sanders ahead of the 2010 draft the most obvious example. He's also said of the draft that the "only people lying are the ones moving their lips," so you can come to your own conclusions as to whether his enthusiasm over Henson is genuine or a bit exaggerated. Imig also brings good news regarding Wednesday's workout, as the Bucks expect to see Perry Jones III (DX #8), Terrence Jones (DX #9) and Arnett Moultrie (DX #21) in what would be their most talented workout to date.
Whatever McKinney's motivation in his Tuesday comments, we can probably assume that the Bucks actually like Henson a fair bit. With measurements eerily similar to Larry Sanders, Henson is a shot-blocking machine (2.9 bpg, most with his supposedly weaker left hand) who never fouls (1.6 pf/g) and also rebounded at a high level despite playing next to another good rebounding big in Tyler Zeller (each had 12.4 reb/40p, 10th in DX's top 100). Defensively, there's no doubt that he could be a beast.
While McKinney is probably right in suggesting that Henson could play some center, he's too light (216 pounds) to do that with much regularity and falls into an awkwardly similar niche as Sanders and Ekpe Udoh: a monster help defender who needs to get physically stronger and more consistent on the offensive end. Though slightly older than most other draft prospects (he'll turn 22 in December), Henson's offensive numbers are underwhelming at best (13.7 ppg, 50% fg, 51% ft, just 50.5% true shooting), which is all the more disappointing when you consider that he does appear to have some offensive skills. Though right-handed as a jump-shooter, Henson seems to prefer shooting lefty jump hooks and is an ambidextrous finisher around the hoop, which you would expect to translate into much better numbers--especially considering he wasn't required to carry the offensive load on a talented UNC squad featuring four potential lottery picks.
Also not to be underestimated is the pedigree that Henson brings: he's a winner with a good head on his shoulders, a classic Carolina guy who will work hard on and off the court. Easy to take for granted, but matters to teams. Charles Gardner writes that Henson is headed next to Toronto (#8) and Detroit (#9), and I'd just as soon prefer to see him snapped up before the Bucks are on the clock. Not that Henson is doomed as a pro (by any stretch), but it's never quite as fun when your team drafts a guy who replicates two other young guys on the roster, is it?
WSSP: Woelfel talks draft
Gery Woelfel was talking draft with Mike and Chuck on WSSP Thursday, and among other things noted that the Bucks had been turned down for workouts by Damian Lillard, Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross and Jared Sullinger. Woelfel claimed this was the worst he can recall in terms of the Bucks being turned down for workouts, but overall this year looks fairly comparable to past years in terms of talent making its way through Milwaukee. Moreover, it's nowhere close to what we saw in 2008, when just three eventual first round picks were willing to come to Milwaukee (and we all know how that worked out...).
By Wednesday, the Bucks will have seen five projected top 20 picks and seven first round projected players, with the possibility that a few more will make trips to Milwaukee in the week leading up to the draft. For comparison, here's what I was able to piece together for eventual first rounders who worked out in Milwaukee since 2008:
2012 (DX Mock Pick): John Henson (9), Tyler Zeller (12), Perry Jones (15), Meyers Leonard (16), Terrence Jones (17), Arnett Moultrie (19), Fab Melo (22), Evan Fournier (26)
2011: Tristan Thompson (4), Klay Thompson (11), Alec Burks (12), Markieff Morris (13), Marcus Morris (14), Chris Singleton (18), Tobias Harris (19), Marshon Brooks (25), Jordan Hamilton (26)
2010: Gordon Hayward (9), Paul George (10), Xavier Henry (12), Larry Sanders (15), Luke Babbitt (16), Damion James (24), Dominique Jones (25), Quincy Pondexter (26), Jordan Crawford (27), Lazar Hayward (30)
2009: Jonny Flynn (6), Jordan Hill (8), Brandon Jennings (10), Jrue Holiday (17), Ty Lawson (18), Jeff Teague (19), Eric Maynor (20), B.J. Mullens (24), DeMarre Carroll (27)
2008: Joe Alexander (8), Anthony Randolph (14), Donte Greene (28)
Note that the Bucks haven't worked out any top point guard prospects since drafting Brandon Jennings in 2009, so I'm not sure why it would come as a surprise that Lillard would pass on working out with the Bucks. He's been widely projected as being off the board by the time the Bucks pick anyway, and it's pretty standard for lotto prospects to pass on teams that already have entrenched young starters at their position, especially when it's on the low end of their range. A similar case can be made for Rivers, who has only worked out for five teams and couldn't have been encouraged by the Bucks already having (at the moment at least) a pair of automatic backcourt starters.
Ross and Sullinger are a bit tougher to figure out, especially given that a) Ross is projected by most to slide into the mid to late teens and was originally planning a visit to Milwaukee and b) Sullinger's stock is now tumbling following news of concerns over his back. It's also not to say that the Bucks' tenuous coaching/management situations and small market status are helping them hold prospects' interest; it certainly doesn't help. After Jimmer Fredette refused a workout last year, Jeff Weltman was fairly blunt in saying that the Bucks wouldn't select players who refused workout invites, but it's difficult to say how rigid the Bucks would be in that regard. What if timing just didn't work out? What if they interviewed a guy in Chicago but his agent didn't want him working out for the Bucks? Given the potential of guys like Rivers, Lamb and Ross and the relative insignificance of gym workouts, you'd hope there'd be some room for discretion. Either way, given the number of guys who have worked out in Milwaukee it's not something I'll lose sleep over for now--after all, things have been worse.
Odds & Ends
- Chad Ford still has the Bucks going with Meyers Leonard in his Mock Draft v8.0.
- The latest DX mock has Tyler Zeller leapfrogging back ahead of Leonard at #12. Ditto at NBADraft.net.
- DX has video scouting reports of John Henson, Terrence Jones, Arnett Moultrie, and Perry Jones III.
- John Hollinger's annual player rater projections are out and don't find that many guys to like in this year's supposedly deep draft. Among the guys we've discussed, Terrence Jones (#8) comes out a fair bit ahead of Henson (#9), with Zeller (23), Leonard (26), Perry Jones III (28), and Moultrie (42) lagging fairly far behind.
- Ford addressed the possibility of the Bucks moving up in his latest chat.
I'm told there haven't been any discussions between the Bucks and Bobcats. But it doesn't mean that the Bucks aren't trying to move up. They, like everyone, would really like to add another star to their roster. But at what cost? If the Bobcats would be willing to do Ellis and 12 for 2? I might consider that if I was Milwaukee.I doubt it, but...cool.