Bucks.com: Hayward debuts, Babbitt returns for second visit
Are we there yet? Not quite, but with the draft just eight days away we're in the home stretch. On Wednesday, Butler swingman Gordon Hayward made his long-awaited first appearance in Milwaukee, but he only shared the day's headlining honors with Luke Babbitt, who made a second trip to Milwaukee less than two weeks after his first workout here. It's very possible neither guy is still available when the Bucks pick 15th, but at least the Bucks will have done their homework in case they are. Oklahoma St. guard James Anderson had also been expected to take part, but he's been struggling with a pulled hamstring and was held out of the workout itself after receiving treatment in Milwaukee yesterday. Gery Woelfel writes that Anderson still hopes to work out at a later date for the Bucks.
And while Hayward and Babbitt were the big names, don't overlook the remainder of today's group: Xavier SG Jordan Crawford (also back for a second time), Mississippi's jumping jack combo guard Terrico White, and New Mexico combo forward Darington Hobson. DX has each of them slotted in the early second. Hit up Bucks.com for tons of quotes from the players and Billy McKinney (see below).
On if what he saw today alters his philosophy on draft night…
"Not really. We’ll still look at taking the best player available for us and we’re still trying to figure out who that’s going to be. There’s about seven players as I’ve talked to teams around the league that are kind of the top seven players and after that it seems like it’s kind of a free-for-all in terms of who will go. Gordon Hayward is a guy that’s been talked in the top 10, Luke Babbitt’s been talked about as a player in the top 10, Hassan Whiteside, who we’ll have in later, also has been a player that could move up into the top 10. So we’re trying to do as much work as we can to see as many players as possible that could fall into our draft range. It will be best player available."
Babbitt was apparently not thrilled with his workout on June 3, but it's interesting that he wanted to redeem himself for the Bucks when most mock drafts have him going in the lottery. While Babbitt's ability to guard either forward position is an open question, his incredible scoring pedigree is impossible to deny and he's probably a better athlete than he's been given credit for (don't tell me Chris Mullin ever threw down alley-oops with ease). Having him go head-to-head with the smaller Hayward will hopefully have provided the Bucks a better feel for his perimeter defense. I'm less worried about Hayward's positional fit, and I also think he's got the savvy and skill level to be at least a decent pro and possibly a very good one. He's not a sexy pick but I think you could do worse.
It's also worth noting that Hayward and Paul George are among the lottery hopefuls who have refused to work out with Memphis, which holds the 12th overall pick. Memphis has probably been the most disrespected team in recent years around draft time, so in some ways this is just more of the same. But George and Hayward are probably also nervous about potentially competing for time with Rudy Gay--provided he re-signs. The irony is that GM Chris Wallace could be looking at guys like George and Hayward as insurance for when Gay demands some ridiculous amount of money this summer--remember he apparently turned down a $10 million per season extension a year ago. Also be sure to check out Jeremy's interview with UWM coach Rob Jeter at Bucksketball. Aside from seeing Hayward up close in the Horizon League, Jeter also coached a number of this year's prospects at the U19 World Championships last summer.
JS: Patterson cancels workout with Bucks
Charles Gardner reports that the Bucks are still hoping to get Patrick Patterson in for a workout, despite his decision to cancel a planned visit yesterday (McKinney also alludes to it in the video above).
"It's an indication he might be going before us in the draft," McKinney said of Patterson's decision to cancel his appointment with the Bucks, who have the No. 15 pick. "We've watched his body of work for the last several years, and we had a chance to interview him while we were in Chicago (for the draft combine in May).
"He's a very impressive young man and we like what he brings to the table. We're comfortable with him but we would like to get him in for a workout. We will continue to try to do so."
Woelfel reports that Patterson's snub was the combination of both expecting to go in the lottery and also being tired from four straight days of workouts. The good news is that he didn't mean it as a symbol of disinterest in the Bucks, who on paper would seem to be a very good fit for him.
Bucks Beat: No clear winner in Babbitt / Hayward showdown
Paul Imig valiantly tried to pry some answers out of McKinney, Hayward and Babbitt, but of course it was mostly PC responses all around.
“I couldn’t say today that there was one guy that stood out over the other,” McKinney said. “They’re very comparable players. Both are tough as nails. That’s one of the reasons we want to get them both in together, having Luke (Babbitt) back in when Gordon (Hayward) is here, you kind of see apples against apples.”
JS: Bucks get a handle on backcourt prospects
While Patterson's absence was the biggest headline on Tuesday, the Bucks did manage to work out a pair of intriguing combo guards in Alabama's Mikhail Torrance and Oklahoma's Willie Warren. A former teammate of Brandon Jennings' at Oak Hill, Warren was a possible lottery selection a year ago but didn't make much progress as a sophomore--OU as a team was more or less a trainwreck--and has seen his stock plummet to the late first/early second range. Alabama's Torrance is projected around the same range, so they were perfect workout opponents for the Bucks to bring in. Afterwards McKinney commented on Torrance's emergence:
"I drove down (to Ohio) for the game and was very impressed with him," McKinney said. "He did an outstanding job here today. His size is very good; his court vision is excellent. He's a very good defensive player and he has the ability to score around the basket with either hand, which makes him very difficult to stop."
Woelfel: Bucks hone in on top prospects
This is a couple days old (like when Patterson was still expected to be in town), but as usual Gery throws out some interesting rumors and tidbits. Here's one on VCU big Larry Sanders:
Some veteran NBA scouts contend Sanders will be picked between 15 and 25. But he believes his talents are better than those draft projections.
He recently held his own against Cole Aldrich of Kansas in a pre-draft workout with the Toronto Raptors and said he‘s matched up well against more highly-regarded big men in the draft.
BUCKS.com: Summer League starts July 12
Looking beyond the draft, the first look at the Bucks' rookies (whoever that ends up being) will happen in Vegas starting July 12. Details:
Mon., July 12 Dallas 7 p.m. COX Pavilion
Tue., July 13 Memphis 7 p.m. COX Pavilion
Thu., July 15 Atlanta 7:30 p.m. Thomas & Mack Center
Fri., July 16 Miami 9:30 p.m. Thomas & Mack Center
Sun., July 18 Cleveland 3 p.m. COX Pavilion
Ford: Xavier Henry to Bucks
Chad Ford's latest mock once again has the Bucks taking Kansas swingman Xavier Henry, passing on Paul George (who he previously had 12th), James Anderson, and Damion James. The big mover is Patrick Patterson, who jumps from 22nd to 12th. Perhaps most interestingly...
Speaking of upside, we probably should add one more name to the list. It's a long shot but Cincinnati's Lance Stephenson has impressed in workouts and the Bucks have had their eye on him for a while. It seems like that's a bit of a reach at 15, but John Hammond rolled the dice on a former high school phenom with a bad rep last year and it paid off. Will he do it again this year?
The Bucks have yet to work out Stephenson, who until now has mostly been known as a one-time child prodigy who never lived up to the hype. Still, his size (227 lbs, 6'10.5" wingspan), age (he turns 20 in September), and natural talent are expected to get him drafted somewhere in the late first or early second round. He scares the hell out of me at #15, and while I said the same thing a year ago about Brandon Jennings, there are some major limitations to the Jennings' parallel. For one, Stephenson's mediocrity at Cincy is harder to explain away than Jennings' issues in Rome, and good shooting guards just aren't as valuable as good PGs.
DraftExpress: Small Forward Situation Stats
Matt Kamalsky uses Synergy Sports' database to break down the top small forward's scoring efficiency--very interesting read. As a sample, here's some good stuff about one of the guys I've generally been less enthusiastic about.
James Anderson was nothing short of spectacular last season, and it shows here. His 1.07 overall PPP ranks second amongst all players, as do his 20 possessions used per-game. He was above the PPP every in every situation except for guarded catch and shoot situations, and has more experience running the pick and roll (2.9 Pos/G) than any other player on our rankings. High usage/high-efficiency players are extremely difficult to come by, and NBA teams may want to ponder if they’re missing the boat on Anderson due to the fact that he has not been spectacular in workouts. The same thing happened last year with Marcus Thornton.
DX has analyses for every position but the small forward and power forward articles are probably the most interesting from a Bucks' standpoint. Among the PFs, here's what they had to say about Larry Sanders:
Larry Sanders stacks up pretty well with Ed Davis at 1.03 PPP on 13 possessions per-game. He's come a long way from his freshman year, and it shows in his situational statistics. His 55.3% shooting from the post (4th) is incredible considering how raw he was with his back to the basket when he got to VCU. He still has a ways to go, as his 0.421 PPP in jump shooting situations indicates his lack polish from the midrange, but couple his length and athleticism with his 1.421 PPP in finishing situations (3rd) and Sanders seems like a nice long-term option for a team with the time develop him.