We knew even before Tuesday's lottery where the Bucks would be picking--kind of a weird feeling, right? But that's not to say there isn't some interesting fallout from Washington and Philly leaping past the Nets to snag the first and second picks, respectively. On the down side, the two best (or perhaps more accurately, assumed best) players in the draft will be residing in the East, which is never a good thing from a Bucks' perspective. It may not have a huge impact next year, but long term it's always preferable to see the best youngsters headed out West. Then again, it could be worse of course--we could be Nets or Wolves fans who had their dreams of John Wall and Evan Turner dashed by those pesky ping-pong balls.
The lottery outcome also raises questions about how the draft order might impact the availability of certain high profile players such as Kevin Love and Andre Iguodala. The Timberwolves would love to add a do-it-all wing like Turner to their triangle offense, but instead it looks like they'll likely have to "settle" for a stud big man like Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins--whoever is left after the Nets pick (sorry, Yi Jianlian). Favors or Cousins ending up in Minneapolis would make Kevin Love or Al Jefferson expendable, with the cheaper Love being the much easier guy to trade at this point. We've already had some talk about a Love trade in the fanposts, and I'm on record as being a big fan of his game. Admittedly I'd rather have a better athlete to pair with Bogut, but Love's ridiculous rebounding ability, off-the-charts basketball IQ, and rookie contract would make any roster look a lot better. And as much as I like Ersan Ilyasova, I'd certainly be willing to use him as trade bait to help facilitate some kind of Love deal.
Meanwhile, Philly won't be complaining about jumping up to the second pick, but they already have Andre Iguodala at the 2 and may not view Turner as the ideal complement. So do Iggy and his big contract become even more available? And if so, are the Bucks willing to bet the farm on Iggy and the remaining four years and $56 million left on his contract? I don't see Iguodala turning the Bucks into title contenders, but I also don't have a real plan for getting a legit superstar, either. I'll say this: there would be much worse ways to use the Bucks' cap flexibility going forward.
Trade speculation aside, the more pressing issue is what the Bucks will do with the #15 pick in the first round, assuming they keep it. Superelkman put together a nice synopsis of the Bucks' first round big man options in the fanposts, so check that out if you haven't already. And with the lottery order settled, the mock drafts are now beginning in earnest. Here are the latest guesses as to what the Bucks will be doing on June 24:
I hesitate to put Hayward this low, knowing that the Chicago draft combine is coming up and that he's going to measure better athletically than people think. Teams as high up as the Wizards, Clippers and Pacers are looking at him closely. But I doubt he'll slip past the Bucks, who can use Hayward at both the 2 and the 3. He needs to gain some strength, but there's really nothing else not to love about his game.
Not surprising to hear Hayward being linked with the Bucks, as their admiration of him seems to be either a poorly kept secret or elaborate smokescreen. I also think it's interesting Ford mentions him as possibly getting minutes at the two, despite some previous scouting reports questioning his lateral quickness even at the 3. For everyone's sake I hope he's more athletic than he's getting credit for.
An aggressive and versatile defender, he'll fit into the program Scott Skiles is building in Milwaukee. He rebounds and finishes strongly in traffic, and Brandon Jennings makes it possible for the Bucks to live with James' lack of passing skills.
James is an old man by draft standards--a senior in college!--so he's probably been scouted to death at this point, especially given he went to the pre-draft combine a year ago (6'7.5" in shoes, 7'1" wingspan, 224 lbs, 37" vertical). He ended up going back to Texas and continuing to work on his jump shot, but he was still mostly a college PF, and a damn productive one at that (18/10 on healthy .501/.383/.674 shooting). Maybe I'm just paranoid about tweeners because of the Joe Alexander experience, but my basic rule from here on out is that if a guy is almost 23 years old and you still don't know if he can guard the 3 or 4, then you probably shouldn't use a mid-first round pick on him. I won't pretend to know James' game well enough to make a definitive call on that either way, but positional ambiguity aside there's a lot to like about him. Chad Ford saw him last week and writes his stock could be rising:
But James has been gaining momentum all year. NBA teams loved his toughness, motor and athleticism. But they questioned what position he would play in the NBA. James has worked hard on his perimeter skills and this year became a much more convincing small forward.
While James isn't going to show the skill of a player like [Paul] George in this type of setting, what he does show is plenty of fire. I think it's going to be a terrific selling point for him in the draft. He could rise in a way similar to what Tyler Hansbrough did in last year's draft. You can't teach toughness, motor and NBA readiness. With so many question marks in this draft, James is one of the few guys who you know, right out of the gate, what you are and aren't getting. By June, he could end up in the late lottery.
Sporting News: Paul George
Sean Deveney's mock has the Bucks taking Fresno State wing Paul George, which also wouldn't be too surprising given the Bucks just worked him out on Monday. While he didn't put up monster numbers in his two years in the WAC, everyone seems to agree that George has a nice mix of shooting, athleticism, and defensive potential, which in the middle of the first round is pretty damn appealing.
George’s stock is on the rise. He is long and athletic, he can shoot from deep and he plays defense. He’s a good fit with the Bucks.
The Bucks might be losing John Salmons, but that won't be such a blow if they're able to draft Anderson, one of the best scorers in college last season.
The Bucks nearly won a lottery pick in that John Salmons trade, with the Bulls just barely making the postseason. As it turns out, the Bucks ended up getting No. 15 in exchange for No. 17 (in addition to turning expiring contracts into Salmons, who fueled a solid run). Salmons, however, could be moving on as a free agent. With Michael Redd seeing his end of (basketball) days, potentially, Milwaukee needs to add a perimeter scorer. Hawyard sure can score.