The Bucks had a slew of 2nd round prospects in town on Monday, but Tom Enlund blogs that the most interesting visitor was Joe Alexander, who met with Bucks officials less than three weeks after his June 6 workout with Anthony Randolph and Donte Greene in Milwaukee. With the paucity of workouts for first rounders, the Bucks don't look like a team terribly intent on staying in the first round at all, but between their supposed interest in O.J. Mayo and the Alexander vs. Randolph talk, the Bucks continue to keep us on edge.
"We wanted to have another conversation with him," said Skiles. "There were just some other things that we wanted to ask him. We got an opportunity to visit with him last time and there are some things that we want to talk to him about."
Skiles said that LSU forward Anthony Randolph, another player who has linked to the Bucks and worked out here with Alexander, had not been back for a second visit.
So what gives? As much as Alexander has become the mock favorite of late, I think J.D. Mo could be on to something when he argues that Randolph was the favorite of the Bucks' brass after that workout.
As the media straggled into the court area at the Cousins Center and the players reached for the gatorade on the sidelines, Bucks assistant Joe Wolf strode up to Randolph and the two 6'10"ers exchanged an emphatic high five. I'd say things went very well for Randolph in Milwaukee. In the post workout interviews, which you can watch here at sportsbubbler.com, Randolph declared himself the best player on the floor. I don't think there is much doubt about this in the Bucks camp.
Of course, with the workout closed to the media no one outside the organization actually saw how Alexander and Randolph stacked up head-to-head. Not surprisingly the Bucks haven't been much help on that topic, though John Hammond at least named some names today on ESPN radio. Per Bob Wolfley:
"I think in our grouping you can probably put a young, small forward out of LSU, Anthony Randolph," Hammond said. "You could probably put another small forward like (junior) Joe Alexander from West Virginia. There is a chance someone could slip in this draft. Maybe one of the smalls slip. I'm not not sure who that would be. I don't want to put a name on that. Could a guy like Russell Westbrook from UCLA be available at that eighth pick? There's going to be a good player there we are going to feel good about on draft night."
Given the questions about whether Randolph might be no more than a long-term project at the power forward position, the key term there might be Hammond's reference to Randolph as a "small forward." If the Bucks see Randolph as a three then that means a) he fulfills a need rather than adding to the logjam of young-but-unproven fours and b) it adds some credence to the theory that Hammond might liken Randolph to Tayshaun Prince, another lean, versatile small forward who had a lot to do with the success of Hammond's teams in Detroit. And while Alexander was talking to the Bucks' braintrust today, Randolph was talking to Gary & Cliff on WSSP, pegging himself as a small forward for the time being while also acknowledging that most teams see him as a "project."
But if the Bucks like Randolph so much, why bring Alexander back? For one, Randolph's stock has been taking a hit lately, as Chad Ford (who's been touting Randolph as a "top five talent" for weeks) and Jonathan Givony have been among those raising questions about Randolph's workout performances and general makeup. Givony wrote yesterday:
Randolph is not helping himself reportedly with the way he’s working out, being very average so far according to numerous people who’ve watched him, looking "laid back" or even "out of shape." Compounding the problem is that he may have recently hurt his shoulder.
Givony reports today that Randolph's shoulder is fine, but that his "workouts continue to underwhelm many onlookers, to the point that it has clearly affected his confidence." With everything we know about Skiles and Hammond, the question marks about Randolph would appear to be major issues, especially when you consider that Alexander doesn't bring the same baggage. And as we mentioned yesterday, a number of statistical analyses have also almost universally panned Randolph. He looks more respectable in John Hollinger's ratings as a small forward than a power forward, but he's not lotto-caliber in either despite the fact that his youth is factored into the system. And of course we should mention that Ty's metrics hate Randolph, too. It's difficult to say whether the Bucks would put any weight into external "buzz" given they've worked Alexander and Randolph out privately, but from an outsider perspective, picking Randolph isn't nearly as popular a choice as it appeared to be a few short weeks ago. Then again, maybe a team like the Knicks secretly loves Randolph and the Bucks are preparing for him to be gone.
Bringing in Alexander on Monday could be an acknowledgement of that fact, especially given the Bucks didn't go out of their way to advertise Alexander's presence. Herb Kohl's Senate calendar was open yesterday, so it could have been a final chance to get Kohl's seal of approval, though Kohl was also at Alexander's workout. Or it could be merely a smokescreen designed to bait a team like the Blazers, who reportedly covet Alexander and hold the 13th pick in the first round.
What's odd is that Alexander doesn't really seem like the type who needs to be interviewed extensively to understand what he's about. Normally that's the type of thing you reserve for guys with sketchier backgrounds, but Alexander's work ethic, drive and focus are well-documented. If Alexander disappoints, it won't have anything to do with his attitude, as Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski's terrific profile of Alexander suggests.
"It wasn’t like I was putting in 12 hours a day there," he said. "But it was really a product of my mentality toward what I’m doing in life. Why do I need to go home? What am I going to do there? Watch TV? I had nothing else going in my life. Nothing else mattered. At night, I just need someplace soft to sleep. And the couch in the locker room was fine."
If it's not Alexander or Randolph, then what? It's difficult to say what offers the Bucks might be debating to move down, up or out of the first round entirely, but the other real x-factor is who among the top prospects might fall outside the top seven, which Hammond alluded to in his interview. There's fresh buzz that Brook Lopez (Seattle) and Danilo Gallinari (Knicks) are getting looks in the top six, which would mean that one or more players who have thus far refused to work out for the Bucks could be available. The hyper-productive Kevin Love and the Russell Westbrook are the names at the top of my list, with Eric Gordon and even Jerryd Bayless two more guys who could drop despite refusing workouts with teams outside the top seven. All four have generally been rated ahead of Alexander and Randolph for a while. The only thing we know for sure? Things will probably change tomorrow.