Pre-Draft Workouts to Begin on Tuesday
The NBA draft lottery will take place Tuesday night in beautiful Secaucus, New Jersey, but there will be no drama for the Bucks: they'll be picking smack-dab in the middle of the first round (15th) no matter what.
Note: this is the part of the story where you let out an audible sigh.
Not that it's a great year to be bad either. Everyone and their mother seems to agree that the top of this year's draft is as weak as any in recent memory, which is why you won't hear the phrase "Nerlens Noel Sweepstakes" anytime soon. But quality players will no doubt emerge from this year's crop, and this is the part where you cross your fingers that the Bucks manage to find one from their perch in the middle of the first.
So who is in the Bucks' wheelhouse? "Guards" would be an obvious answer, though expect to hear the usual chorus of "best player available" talk over the next few weeks, starting with Tuesday's session at the Cousins Center. As usual, the Bucks won't officially announce who is showing up until the morning of the workout, but Gery Woelfel tweets that first round prospect Glen Rice Jr. (SF/SG, D-League), James Southerland (Syracuse, SF) and Will Clyburn (Iowa State, SF/PF) will be among the guys in town.
UPDATE: The Bucks have confirmed those three will be joined by Marquette guard Junior Cadougan, Dakota State guard Tyrone Gordon, and New Mexico guard Tony Snell.
All that said, let's do a quick review of the guys who have been rumored to have workouts planned in Milwaukee:
Dennis Schröder, PG, Germany
The 19-year-old German impressed at the recent Nike Hoops Summit and has been compared to a lesser Rajon Rondo for his quickness, defense and playmaking; it's unclear if he's in Rondo's ballpark when it comes to general weirdness but being German will presumably help on that front. Charles Gardner writes that Schröder plans to work out for the Bucks (around June 1) in addition to the Rockets and Jazz. But expect that list to grow plenty. A potential Brandon Jennings replacement, or a potential Brandon Jennings backup? Choose your own adventure, friends.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG/SG, Syracuse
MCW is one of the draft's more polarizing figures: his tremendous size (6'6"), athleticism (41" vertical) and playmaking abilities give him top five potential, but his inability to score and general inconsistency could allow him to slip into the Bucks' range. Basically he's the closest we've seen to Shaun Livingston since Shaun Livingston was still Shaun Livingston, all of which makes me skeptical he'll fall out of the lottery.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
A breakout sophomore campaign helped Caldwell-Pope establish himself as one of the draft's best perimeter shooters and scorers, though his perceived lack of handle/driving game has kept him out of most lottery projections thus far. Still, he's a unique talent in that he can shoot and make plays defensively (7.1 rpg, 2.0 spg), two things the Bucks could use in a young shooting guard.
Jamaal Franklin, SG/SF, San Diego State
Franklin's scoring inefficiency scares me (40.4% shooting at 27.9% from deep...basically Monta Ellis numbers), but his athleticism and versatility on both ends are difficult to deny. Boasting an exceptional 6'11.25" wingspan, the 6'5" wing led SDSU in scoring, rebounding (9.4!), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). He's certainly very flawed as a scorer, but I'm still interested.
Glen Rice Jr., SF/SG, D-League Rio Grande Vipers / Georgia Tech
As Dan previously wrote, Rice is one of the most intriguing players in the draft--for better or worse. He interviewed with the Bucks in Chicago and Gery Woelfel writes that he's also expecting to be in town for a workout. Rice can shoot (thanks Dad!), jump (40.5" max vert) and annihilated the D-League late last season in leading Rio Grande to the title, so there's reason to believe he can come in and contribute now and in the future. But the mere fact that he needed a D-League detour to begin with is a major cause for concern, as he was kicked off the Georgia Tech squad a year ago and and enters the draft as a slightly older prospect (22).
Gorgui Dieng, PF/C, Lousiville
Dieng actually reminds me a bit of Ekpe Udoh in that both entered the draft as 23-year-old defensive big men who has also flashed some abilities from the mid-post. In short, a high-floor/low-ceiling type that will make a team better without getting anyone terribly excited. That means he'd also be a rather duplicative talent for a Bucks' roster already long on defensive combo-bigs, but it's no secret that the Bucks draft for talent and trade for need.
Kelly Olynyk, C/PF, Gonzaga
Most expect the highly-skilled Olynyk to be draft at some point in the latter half of the lottery, but he's a white guy with long hair so that presumably won't help his stock (jokes!). Olynyk's calling card is his ability to score inside and out, but he's also one of those big guys who does unfortunately little rebounding and shot-blocking (you know, big guy stuff).
Rudy Gobert, C, Cholet (France)
Gobert's freakish dimensions made him something of a novelty when he first emerged as a prospect last season, and last week he set combine records with his 7'8.5" wingspan and 9'7" standing reach. But the 19-year-old also emerged as an actual basketball player over the past year in France, and early projections suggest he'll be nabbed by someone in the lottery.
Mason Plumlee, PF/C, Duke
As far as likability to Bucks fans go, Plumlee might as well be the Ivan Drago of the draft: he went to Duke (BLARG!), he's already 22 (boo!), he doesn't play a position of need (wah!) and...well, he has blond hair. But Plumlee's also an exceptional athlete for a 7-footer and he was a damn effective collegiate player. Which presumably is worth something, right? [dodges tomato]
JS: Player interviews a key part of combine process
Speaking of the draft, now's the time of year wherever talks themselves blue in the face about how to judge whether any of these kids are actually going to be any good or not. Advanced stats! Measurements! Interviews! Workouts! So does it really matter? Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman says about what you'd expect:
"It's all good stuff," Weltman said. "It's just another layer. It's not that you're going to draft a kid or not draft a kid based on that information, but it's certainly another layer so why not have it?
"The Bucks aren't going to get Cody Zeller in for a workout so that's good information for us to have. Maybe it matters to us; maybe it doesn't. But it's always good information."
Boeder: The Search for Coach 13
Our man Alex counts down the 12 men who have roamed the sidelines for the Bucks since 1968.
Ziller: The affordability of an elite NBA defense
Very good and Bucks-relevant read from Tom Ziller on the cheapest route to competing at a high level in the NBA. Hint: it doesn't involve shelling out huge dollars to undersized, shoot-first guards (WINK!).
Defense is cheaper than offense in the NBA. (The exception is at center, where even defense-skewed players are pricey.) Scoring is the top determinant for individual salary; if you have a couple of 22-point scorers, you're going to be outlaying a lot of money for offense. Some of the top defenders, though, make a pittance. Consider Tony Allen, the Grizzlies' ace perimeter defender. He's made All-Defense three straight years, including the first team in the past two seasons. He's wrapping up a three-year, $9.5 million contract. The Grizzlies' old top scorer, Rudy Gay, who was traded in January, made $16.4 million just this season to score 20 points a game.
JS: Relationships with players a strength, Bucks candidate Larry Drew says
Larry Drew put together a solid-but-unspectacular three years as head coach of the Hawks, earning three straight playoff berths with good-but-not-great rosters including one trip to the East semis three years ago. Larry Drew also has more seasons with 44+ wins in his three seasons as a coach than the Bucks can claim over the past 20 seasons. Larry Drew also seems a wholly underwhelming coaching choice for most Bucks fans, which speaks to both the odd circumstances of his current situation with the Hawks (he's still technically their coach, but they sure don't seem eager to extend his contract past July) as well as our collective yearning for a difference-making head coach who might not actually exist.
Jerry Sloan and Stan Van Gundy were interesting because they actually have been great NBA head coaches; Kelvin Sampson and Steve Clifford interest us because we don't know for sure that they won't be great NBA coaches; Drew seems decidedly less sexy because he's "only" been good. It's both an unfair and completely understandable approach that we take as fans in a sport where only binary results seem acceptable: give us great or give us crap, because everything in between is far too close to what we've seen over the past three seasons.