The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, but that's not a concern for the Milwaukee Bucks anymore. Their attention is now focused squarely on finding a new head coach to lead them next season. Thankfully, the team is taking its time with the search, interviewing both established candidates and high-profile assistants. There doesn't appear to be a clear-cut favorite, especially with many candidates interviewing with more than one team, but a few names (Kelvin Sampson chief among them) do seem to pop up more often than the rest.
Looking past the coaching search, however, another hugely important event sits on the horizon. The 2013 NBA Draft, set for June 27, is going to be a key spot for the Bucks as they go about a critical offseason of tinkering. The team has built something of a reputation for draft-day dealing, moving back in the last two drafts as part of major team restructuring.
The draft itself is still a long way off, and won't really take shape until at least May 21, when the lottery results are revealed. But mock draft season is ramping up, and three major draft resources have all released mocks with different players projected for the Bucks at #15.
Chad Ford's Mock Draft 2.0 - ESPN (Insider Only) - Glen Rice Jr., SG/SF, Rio Grande Vipers (D-League) (DX #31, NBADraft.net Unranked)
Rice Jr.'s story is an interesting one--and if we're being honest, perhaps a bit concerning. He played collegiate ball at Georgia Tech for two seasons before a multitude of off-the-court issues led to a suspension and eventual dismissal from the team. Most worrisome among them was a shooting incident outside an Atlanta nightclub in which a passenger in a car Rice was riding in fired a weapon. Rice faced a few lesser charges, but it was enough to get him kicked off the team. Instead of transferring to another school, which would have required him to sit out for a year, Rice threw his name into the player pool for the D-League draft. He didn't catch on immediately, but when injuries and call-ups opened up minutes, Rice made the most of it. In his first start he scored 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and he averaged 18/8/2.5 with excellent percentages as a starter for 25 games. And he turned it up even more in the D-League playoffs, leading Rio Grande to the championship with 25 ppg/9.5 rpg/4.3 apg/2 bpg/2 spg in the playoffs and 29/11.5/4.0/3.5/3.0 in the finals.
Those eye-popping numbers have him surging back up draft boards, and the conversation is shifting away from character concerns to his tantalizing talent. At 22 he's an older prospect, but his experience playing in a professional setting with NBA rules should allow him to contribute in his first year. That could be a big plus for a team like the Bucks, who may want to bolster their thin depth in the wings via the draft. Rice Jr. is sure to face plenty of scrutiny for his past as draft day approaches, but a team willing to bet on him could come away with great value. Likely due to his unconventional route to the draft, there's little consensus on where his stock is at the moment--DX only has him at #31 in their mock while NBADraft.net doesn't have him in their top 60.
Oh, his dad was pretty good too.
Check out DX's excellent video scouting report of Rice below:
DraftExpress 2013 Mock Draft (May 3 update) - Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (Ford #12, NBADraft.net #22)
Dieng built a lot of hype during Louisville's run to the 2013 NCAA Tournament Championship, but he was key player for the Cardinals all season, anchoring the top defense in the country according to KenPom.com. He's the rare player who already has a good amount of bulk (perhaps owing to his age; he's already 23) to go with a massive wingspan. DX suggests he's at his best on offense in pick-and-roll situations, when he can attack the basket and finish strong. He's a pretty good passer from the post as well. But like every big man in college basketball these days (it seems), much of his offensive game remains inconsistent. Dieng might seem like strange fit for a Bucks team that already has a lot of young talent in the frontcourt, but potential game-changing defenders always have value, and Dieng brings a different style to the game than the Tubemen.
NBADraft.net (April 30 update) - Giannis Adetokuobo, F, Greece (Ford #26, DX #23)
Under the radar thanks to his youth (he doesn't turn 19 until December) and the fact that he plays in a rarely-discussed Greek basketball league that operates similarly to European soccer leagues. Born in Greece to a Nigerian family, he started playing casually about 10 years ago and has since become on of the top players in the country. He's got great size for a perimeter-oriented player and is a passable shooter, but his game is obviously marred by inexperience. In addition, the talent level he's facing in Greece's 2nd-highest professional league is low, relatively speaking, so it's hard to gauge just how good his production is. The Bucks have had mixed success with international scouting, but they certainly haven't shied away from picking players outside the college game. Adetokuobo is a risk, but his upside is tremendous. Picking him might not pay dividends next year, but he could grow into a star with good coaching and more experience.
DX scouting report video: