Stretch 4's: 2014/15 Bucks Edition

I think Larry should be the Bucks' franchise center moving forward, at least in the short term; there has been some speculation that we will draft Joel Embiid, bc if healthy, he can be a top 3 center in the NBA for years. I'm not going to debate that question, as either way, we will have a low-post defensively-capable center for a long time.

With Larry or Embiid, I think a stretch PF makes too much sense. A floor spacing 4 gives you the ability spread out the defense and keep a post defender away from the basket, allowing penetrating guards to have less to worry about. It also provides the obvious benefit of giving the defense more to worry about and giving the offense another guy who can score 3 points.

To that end, I've been thinking a lot about who I want at PF to be next season. Obviously, I want it to be a floor spacer, which rules Henson out. We have the definite in-house option of Ersan, who was an elite stretch 4 last season but has regressed sharply this season, possibly due to injury. However, I think that Ersan's one-dimensionality hurts us too much, as he has no offense game outside of shooting and he doesn't play defense either. We need at least one of those traits (if not both) from a starting PF in my opinion.

So, that brings us to new players. I have brought up the idea of Josh Smith (which received mostly criticism, understandably) and Thad Young (which was mostly ignored but received some support). Instead of bringing in a new guy (neither of which has been associated with real success), I think our best option is the draft, where I see three strong options:

1. Noah Vonleh: top rated prospect of my three, with a strong all around game and a lot of mobility. I don't think we will draft him with our first pick, unless he kills it at the combine and interviews. He's a fantastic prospect though, with a ton of Chris Bosh in his game. He's mobile and yet has the frame to be very strong, and is only 18.

2. Adreian Payne: rated as a mid-first round guy and has been playing very well in the tournament, but is very inconsistent defensively in my opinion and makes a lot of bad decisions. Still, he has an all-around offensive game, is more proven as a 3pt shooter than the other two, and has good size, but lacks the mobility of the other two. He's also the oldest.

3. Cleanthony Early: He's a little bit of a wild card, esp as a PF, but most people seem to think he doesn't have the quickness on the wing to be a full-time SF. As a PF, he would remind me a lot of a Thad Young type guy, but he was a strong 3pt shooter this year. He has the potential to be a strong PF defender in my opinion, as his quickness and intensity will make up for his lack of size. He's also very athletic, and could play outside on the wing much more easily than Payne of Vonleh, who would mostly just spot up outside.

Both Early and Payne appear to have great intangibles, Early's effort and positive attitude visible on the court and Payne's character visible off of it. Vonleh seems to be more of an unknown in those regards, which is understandable given that he is a freshman and only 18.

I believe the Bucks should draft at least one of these guys, if not two or all three (with Early's potential to also play SF and Payne's potential to also play C, we wouldn't be in a bad spot with all three on the roster). We are in exactly the wrong position in the draft for any of them, however. Vonleh isn't viewed as a potential #1 or #2 pick, and Early and Payne will almost definitely be drafted in the first round. So, I think we should make a trade to move into the first round, as high as we can go, to get one of the three. This could probably be accomplished with the ammo of Henson, Ersan, and/or the two 2nd round picks.

In my opinion, Vonleh could be a dynamic starter at PF for us for a long time, and I believe Early could too. I love his heart and apparent love for the game, and his athleticism as a PF. Payne I am less certain on, but he would at least be a great fit with Larry, esp as he may offer the ability to bang with bigger guys, which Larry has a hard time doing.

What do you guys think about stretch 4s, our need for one, the three I named or others, and the idea of trading up in the draft?

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