In advance of the Bucks biggest draft in recent memory, GM John Hammond met with the local media to discuss the top prospects and draft strategy. While nothing major was revealed--Hammond and company do a great job of internalizing the important discussions--there was still quite a bit of good insight to be had. Let's begin with his opening statement.
"I think we said maybe the day after the lottery or a couple days after the lottery, we talked about how we felt that we were going to be in a good position, and now we stand just a couple of days before the draft and feel the same and maybe even more so."
Boilerplate responses are pretty common in press conferences like these, but it's worth noting that it doesn't appear that the draft strategy took a major hit with the news of Joel Embiid's injury. But does that mean it's now down to Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?
"I don't think it's fair to say that right now. I think we still have to keep all of our options open. I think this is more than a two man draft. I think it's going to be prove to be that. We talked about it being a three man draft before Joel [Embiid] got hurt...I think that's still the case. It was more than a three man draft at that time and I think it's more than a two man draft today."
This opens the door for Dante Exum a little bit, though there still is a growing assumption that the Bucks will take whoever is left over between Wiggins and Parker. Whomever that guy turns out to be, the Bucks are in a solid position to grab him at #2, even if one of the guys they like will be off the board by the time it's their turn to select. So, will they have a plan B and C ready? Yes, but it's not as concrete as you'd think.
"There's going to be a player gone when we make that decision. I wouldn't commit to say we know exactly what we're going to do, but we're comfortable where we're at in the process here today."
Speaking of that decision process, this will be John Hammond's seventh draft as Bucks GM; however, this is his first without Herb Kohl, who was known to influence this process more than many people would have liked. Under the new regime of Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, Hammond has noticed some change, and had generally positive things to say about the new owners.
"Marc and Wes have been great, absolutely great through this process. We've enjoyed working with them over the last few weeks in dealing with this, and they're supportive. To me, the greatest thing with them is they see the vision. I love the fact that they talk about trying to build this into a championship-caliber team and wanting to be a championship team, and that's the goal. For us to get to that point, we have to have a draft like this; we have to have an opportunity to hopefully get a difference maker, and we're hoping that this second pick will be a piece that can be a part of that championship caliber team."
Not to throw sand on Kohl here, but it's nice to see Hammond generally on the same page with Lasry & Edens, one that consists of a plan for beyond just next season. Hammond could be considered as guilty as anyone for the last handful of years yielding such undistinguished results, but perhaps having his new bosses on board with a rebuild will help in enacting a plan to get Milwaukee to that championship level down the road.
It's going to take a lot more work than making the right pick(s)on Thursday, but Hammond seems about as eager as anyone to let the process of improving happen organically. It's anyone's guess as to what that entails or how the rest of the offseason (and beyond) plays out, but for now the process appears to be more valuable than the production, and we haven't seen that line of thinking in some time.
- When asked about the report of Jabari Parker weighing in at 255, Hammond said he thought that Parker looked to be in great shape when they saw him workout (once in Santa Monica, once in Milwaukee weeks later). The number may or may not be accurate, but it apparently isn't an immediate issue either way.
- Hammond was asked about the level of interest in the #2 pick. He briefly replied with "It's been significant," and didn't make it seem like the Bucks had much of a desire to move out of that position. When asked about what it would take to move out, Hammond said it would have to take something really special. By the sounds of it, such an offer has not been presented to him.
- Giannis is enormous.
- Is there a possibility of moving back up into the first round? According to Hammond, yes. "We'll have discussions with teams, and we're having discussions with teams right now. I wouldn't rule that possibility out, but we'll see how that goes."