We have officially reached NBA mock draft season, and rumors are spinning in every possible direction at this point. The Milwaukee Bucks have conducted workouts with their eventual first-round draft picks during every season of John Hammond's tenure as GM, so when Miami guard Shane Larkin and German prospect Dennis Schröder appeared at the Cousins Center last week, the links to Milwaukee naturally started to pop up in back channels of the NBA.
With the Bucks hesitant to make a big free-agent offer to point guard Brandon Jennings, that position might immediately become a need for Milwaukee. Sources say Larkin's workout in Milwaukee was a "wow" for the Bucks. Pairing him with Monta Ellis would make for a pretty small backcourt, but Larkin's ability to run the pick-and-roll is very appealing to them.
The "wow" for me was that Ford had the Bucks passing on Shabazz Muhammad (No. 16 to the Celtics), who plays a position of need and is only one year removed [insert age discrepency joke here] from being listed as the concensus No. 1 high school recruit in the nation. Rudy Gobert (No. 17 to Hawks), Jamaal Franklin (No. 18 to Hawks), Sergey Karasev (No. 19 to Cavaliers) and Allen Crabbe (No. 25 to Clippers) were also still on the board in Ford's hypothetical.
Larkin is small, but he's quick and explosive. He enjoyed a breakout season at Miami as a pick-and-roll specialist last year and then performed very well in athletic tests at the NBA Combine.
Shane Larkin's 44-inch max vertical is the highest at the NBA Draft Combine in 12 years— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2013
One speculative report claims that the Bucks have made a promise to Larkin at pick No. 15. He's the No. 18 player on the Draft Express Top-100, and here's a link to the full breakdown from DX:
Shane Larkin DX scouting report and video analysis: draftexpress.com/article/NBA-Dr…— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 5, 2013
Again, he is an experienced pick-and-roll player who could step in if the Bucks decide to abandon Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings -- the only guard currently under contract is Ish Smith -- and it feels like a natural fit. However, Hammond justified his pick of John Henson last year by saying "draft for talent, trade for need," so maybe it's not a slam dunk just yet. Could the Bucks pass on someone as talented as Shabazz Muhammad? Is a bet on a diminutive point guard who may struggle to score in the paint a smart gamble?
Here's what Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney had to say about Larkin's size and athleticism (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):
"As a small guy you're not going to make your living dunking over guys," McKinney said. "It might help you defensively. I think it's good to be athletic at any position.
"He (Larkin) had a great ACC tournament and I had a chance to watch him (there)," McKinney said. "He feels like he's ready for the challenge at this level."
If Larkin truly is a PnR savant, Larry Sanders, John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova would certainly welcome him with open arms. The Knicks (pick No. 24) won't be able to work out the sophomore point guard, because his agent says his client won't be available when New York is on the clock.
Larkin's promise could have come from elsewhere, or it could just be a clever way for an agent to create buzz. Maybe the Cavaliers will pull a Dion Waiters scenario twice in a row and select Larkin No. 1 overall. Who knows. If he does land elsewhere, the Bucks may look Schröder. The latest Draft Express mock has Larkin going to the Jazz and Schröder headed to the Bucks. If the German point guard prospect has a first-round promise, he isn't letting on.
Frank Madden and Steve von Horn sat down to discuss general Bucks draft strategy, the idea of acquiring another pick, where Tobias Harris would go in the 2013 NBA Draft and the idea of adding a point guard like Larkin over a wing like Muhammad. Enjoy.
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