We're now just 15 days from the 2014 NBA Draft, and thankfully things are finally, almost, possibly, maybe, probably getting interesting.
Following up on Monday's news that Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum would be working out privately for the Bucks, Tuesday brought more details as well as news of Joel Embiid's arrival in Cleveland for his all-important workout and medical evaluation with the Cavaliers.
Milwaukee Bucks will watch Andrew Wiggins work out Friday in Santa Barbara, sources told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 11, 2014
Joel Embiid has arrived in Cleveland, will work out & undergo medical eval for Cavs. Could decide whether he's No. 1 pick, source told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 10, 2014
ESPN | Ford: NBA Mock Draft 7.0 (Insider)
As for which direction the Bucks will go on draft night? Chad Ford reiterates the notion of the Bucks preferring Embiid but likely ending up with Parker, though he's still trying to cover all his bases in his latest mock:
The Bucks appear to be intrigued with all four players here: Embiid, Parker, Wiggins and Australian point guard Dante Exum.
If Embiid goes No. 1, I think Parker will likely get the nod here. While new ownership has made it clear that they are OK with GM John Hammond fully engaging the rebuilding process, the reality is that the team needs to draft a player who can help now. Parker is the most NBA ready of the group and gives them a go to scorer who likely would be slotted to play the 4 between Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokoumnpo.
If Parker isn't on the board, Embiid has intrigued the team for a while. Given his offensive prowess (and Sanders utter lack thereof) they feel he's a good fit. Of course, as the Bucks keep breaking down tape, they keep getting more excited about Wiggins. They fly to Santa Barbara, Calif., this week to watch Wiggins workout. It will be interesting to see if that sells the Bucks on him. Exum is the wild card. The team gets him in for a workout this weekend. They'd really like to upgrade the point and move Brandon Knight to the 2. If Exum wows in the workout, he could move to the top of their board. i think he fits their biggest need.
What, no love for Dougie McBuckets???
Also, on the topic of Brandon Knight and the shooting guard position: I've been dragging my feet on a longer post on that very topic, so hopefully that will run in the next week. But to me the strict differentiation between the guard positions seems like something of a red herring that distracts from the more important question: do you believe Brandon Knight can be one of your best players or not?
That of course involves a tangled mess of follow-up questions. Is Knight your classic "pass first" point guard? No, but he did serve--and generally showed good signs of progress--as the Bucks' primary ballhandler last year, even while playing significant time with others capable of initiating offense (Luke Ridnour, Ramon Sessions, Nate Wolters). Would he be best served by playing with another shot-creator? Probably so, especially given the lack of refined playmaking we've seen thus far. Is he going to be significantly more valuable as a "shooting guard," playing without the ball more often and defending larger wings? Probably not. Could he be a top 5-10 guy as a starter at either position, or is he destined to be a hybrid scoring guy off the bench? Ah, now there's the real question, though it's also not one that needs to be answered definitively right now.
At 22, Knight is still young enough to make another major leap, but in all likelihood he probably won't ever be a truly great point guard or shooting guard. For the Bucks to be any good, they'll eventually need to find at least one more guy who can create shots and make plays for others, an issue that speaks more to where the Bucks are overall and less about Knight specifically. If you want to call that mystery guy a point guard, great. If it's an elite shooting guard, that's also great. If it's Giannis or the guy the Bucks pick on June 26, even better. The upside is that Knight can likely play with any of them, even if his remaining development will determine just how significant that role will be--and how much the Bucks will eventually be willing to pay him for it.
TMJ4 | John Hammond on Bucks draft, excitement for future under new owners
Interesting stuff here from John Hammond on the team's confidence in bringing all the top prospects in (Embiid too?) and his long-term future with the team. Read into this as much or as little as you want.
"I don't know how long I'm going to be a part of this organization, I hope for a long time, but this is an extremely exciting, and it's going to be a great time for the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Bucks basketball," Hammond said. "This is going to change, and it's going to change in a very drastic way. These guys are committed, and they're committed to doing this the right way."
JS | Marquette's Wojciechowski and Taylor praise Jabari Parker
New Marquette coach and former Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski spent the past season watching Jabari Parker up close, and not surprisingly has nothing but good things to say about the possible Bucks' draftee. Ditto for his former high school teammate Steve Taylor:
"He's a great player and a great person," said Marquette forward Steve Taylor Jr., Parker's teammate at Simeon. "We have brotherly love. I look at him as my little brother.
"He's got a passion for the game, don't get me wrong, but outside of basketball he's as equal as he is on the court. He's loving. He cares about people around him. But he attacked practice like it was his last game. He made me better and I made him better."
SB Nation | Ekpe Udoh wanted to make his book club cry
So he screened 'The Fault In Our Stars' for its members. Very cool stuff from Ekpe.