And so it begins.
With the NBA draft 25 days away, the Bucks kicked off their pre-draft workouts on Sunday with a guard-centric workout featuring a mixture of local talent and potential late first/early second rounders--but no one expected to be in the mix for the Bucks' 12th overall pick.
Pac-12 combo guards Tony Wroten (Washington, 6'5", Freshman, DX #25) and Jared Cunningham (6'4", Oregon State, Junior, DX #35) were the highest-rated prospects in attendance, though Wisconsinites will probably be more interested in appearances by Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom (6'2", Senior, DX #47) and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor (6'1", Senior, DX #69). Rounding out the workout were forwards Kris Joseph (6'7", Syracuse, Senior, DX #53) and Chris Johnson (6'5", Dayton, Senior, DX Unranked).
The decision to bring in Wroten is perhaps the most interesting one and indicative of how wide a net the Bucks may be casting during the workout process. Wroten's combination of size, quickness and shot-creating abilities have drawn comparisons to Tyreke Evans, though some of Evans' negatives are also there. Like Evans, Wroten is more quick than vertically explosive, but able to get into the lane at will to create for himself or teammates despite lacking a jump shot to keep defenses honest. He's also notoriously one-handed (Evans right, Wroten left), though it didn't prevent him getting to the line more than any other player in DraftExpress' top 100.
Overall, Wroten's youth (19 years old), decision-making (3.8 turnovers) and woeful shooting (18% from three, 58% from the line) seem to make him more of a project than a guy capable of contributing from day one, and for that reason he probably won't challenge for a spot in the lottery. Given the Bucks' current surplus of combo guards he also wouldn't fill an immediate need either, but talent is talent and there's no downside to putting Wroten through the paces against some more established players like Cunningham, Johnson-Odom and Taylor. Scouting report video below from SwishScout.com.
Cunningham would be an interesting possibility at #42, but he could also move up into the late first over the next month if can impress against guys like Wroten.
Following Klay Thompson's departure to the NBA, Cunningham emerged as Oregon State's star in 11/12, scoring an efficient 17.9 ppg (57% true shooting) before deciding to forego his senior year to enter the draft (oops, Klay went to Wazzu). Athletic but slightly undersized for a two (6'4"), Cunningham gets to the line a ton, shot a respectable 34% from deep and ranked among the nation's leaders in steals the past two season (2.5 and 2.8 spg). You can get a little better feel for his game with the video scouting report below, though for some reason it doesn't show his two biggest dunks of the season (a huge put-back vs. Arizona and reverse alley-oop against Howard).
One sidenote on the Wroten/Cunningham matchup: Cunningham nearly registered a triple-double (18 pt, 10 rebs, 8 ast, 4 to) as OSU upset the 1st seeded Huskies in the opening game of the Pac-12 tourney last season. Wroten also posted one of his more prolific stat lines of the season (29 pts on 19 shots, 7 rebs, 3 ast) but missed four critical free throws in the final 20 seconds.
As for the local guys, Johnson-Odom is a good bet to be drafted somewhere in the second round after an excellent senior season. Though lacking in size for a shooting guard (6'2" in shoes), DJO reportedly played well at the recent Nets workout and tested out very well athletically (40" max vert). Charles Gardner writes that Johnson-Odom is getting some helpful draft hints from none other than Kevin Durant, and at the moment has additional workouts scheduled with Portland, Sacramento, Utah and Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Taylor seems like a long-shot to be drafted, though he did manage to nab a last-minute invite to this week's Chicago pre-draft camp.
Odds & Ends
- Check out BPF's new full first round mock and analysis over in the FanPosts, as well lottery mocks from FTD and CanadaBucks.
- Chad Ford talks to Washington swingman Terrence Ross about his draft preparations, while DX offers up a video scouting report of Ross.
- Chris Bernucca ranks Ersan Ilyasova fifth in his unrestricted free agent rankings, and also lists the Bucks as a possible destination for Chris Kaman.
No secret about the Bucks' philosophy at #42. Speaking after Sunday's workout, Jeff Weltman told Charles Gardner:
"At 42, you don't know what you're going to be picking," Weltman said. "You pick the best player.
"We have needs on our team, but at 42 you feel like the odds are at a point where you have to go (with the guy) with the strongest likelihood to make the league, play on your team and hopefully address a need."