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BPA Versus Need

After the Friday workouts, both John Hammond and Scott Skiles indicated the Bucks plan on drafting the best player available.

Okay, this isn't necessarily groundbreaking stuff, right? Conventional wisdom supports this drafting philosophy, especially in the lottery, where most of the time teams need help anywhere they can get it.

But what about need? You know, the reason why the Bucks might be more inclined to draft a small forward than a center. Draft Express, probably the most credible, NBA draft-specific site on the web, has a bold caveat that their mock draft has not taken into account team needs.

The implication is that things will change after taking into account team needs, and thus, some teams will not choose the "best player available."

Who really wants to be that team? When the Bulls are deciding, presumably, between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, are they at the same time helping base their decision while they gauge whether Kirk Hinrich or Tyrus Thomas is more important to the future of the team? In the event they consider Rose and Beasley exact equals, the positional considerations could serve well as a sort of tiebreaker. But otherwise, should thinking about anything other than which player is a true franchise talent be a part of the equation?

For the Bucks in this draft, the best player available versus need quandary is relevant. Sometimes, the best player and most pressing need comes in one convenient package. Perhaps the Bucks need help at the small forward position, and perhaps Anthony Randolph is the best player still waiting around at the eighth pick.

However, what if you're a big-time believer in Yi Jianlian, but also Kevin Love? And what if the UCLA power forward slips to the Bucks' pick? Does that change your mind about who you want; are you no longer so much in Love?

When we polled you a few weeks back, Love was the most popular pick, followed by Eric Gordon. Love plays the same position as last year's lottery pick, Yi, while Gordon is a shooting guard, like the team's best player, Michael Redd. That seems to indicate that most of you are gong the best player available route, or in Gordon's case, maybe would like to see Redd dealt out of town.

Seemingly there aren't many intriguing centers for the Bucks in this draft. For those who take "need" very seriously, that makes things much easier, because Andrew Bogut is the team's young, highly promising building block. But what if, say, Andrew Bynum was a prospect in the draft, and was their for the taking at number eight, like he was in 2005? And what if you liked him the most, just ahead of Yasoslav Korolev, Joey Graham, and Gerald Green, who more conveniently play small forward? You might just decide ahead of time to exclude Bynum from serious consideration. But a few years later, you'd rue that decision, and wish dearly to have the good kind of dilemma in which you have two of the game's finest young low-post players at your disposal.

Now, sometimes you might get the better player because you picked for need instead of your "best player available." But that takes us away from the point. We have trust (right?) in our general managers, so shouldn't we hope to avoid a scenario like the Bynum one outlined above? Shouldn't the Bulls forget worrying about Hinrich or Thomas if they are, and just pick the better kid?

I'm inclined to think the Bucks should pick the best player available at eight, and figure out how to reshuffle the roster if necessary from there. This team has some nice pieces, but most will agree that aside from Bogut, there isn't any sure thing that's absolutely worth clinging to. Such is the state of a 26-win team. Certainly, Yi has shown glimpses and could become a very good player for a very good team. But he's definitely not at the point where you should avoid drafting a power forward you feel is a star in the making. Remember, it's tough to have too much of a good thing. You can't worry that both Love and Yi turn out well.

Based on their most recent interviews after the workouts that featured small forward possibilities Randolph, Alexander, and Greene, both Hammond and Skiles were clear that they planned on going with the best player available, regardless of position. Hopefully that's true, but we'll probably never know if that's really how are approaching the pick, especially since that's a safer line to offer publicly. That way, no one can accuse them of reaching for a specific player based on position after the fact.

So here's the question: how should the Bucks approach their eight overall pick in the draft. Do you think they should take the best player available regardless of position, and consider need only in the event that there is an absolute tie? Or do you think the Bucks should consider needs and positions as an important part of the process from the start?