During an open media session last week, John Hammond didn't offer any shocking revelations in discussing the Bucks' plans for the draft; he's been a GM for seven years, he knows better than that. However, he did offer some insight into the process for evaluating the Bucks' options at #17. Via Bucks.com:
"We're still a very young team, and we're still very much an unfinished product, so I would look and say probably we like a lot of other teams we need a lot of things. We still need size, we need shooting, we need to continue to add toughness and energy to our team. So we have multiple needs."
"Today we have a grouping that we're working off of. Now it's probably about 10 players. Last year when you're sitting with the second pick, your grouping was two, maybe three players. You go as deep as 17 you maybe have 10 players in the grouping. I would assume that one of those players on our board is going to be there at 17."
So who might be in that group of 10 or so players? Well, the Chicago combine interview list and Jason Kidd's comments on shooting offered the first hints at the Bucks' preferences. A chunk of the Bucks' 18 interviewees in Chicago will presumably end up on their shortlist, and in-person workouts over the next few weeks will offer more obvious signals of interest. Kidd may have a preference for a shooter, but I'm guessing we'll see a number of big guys (some of whom can shoot) come through as well.
Writing at Milwaukee Magazine last week, Eric Nehm provided a good starting point for thinking about the Bucks' targets by breaking them down into three groups: those almost certain to be gone by the time the Bucks' pick, those who could be available, and those that seem highly likely to be available (because, you know, they're not as appealing). You'd guess that the Bucks' list of 10 guys will presumably focus on the middle column in Eric's table:
A handful of the guys on the left could be in play if the Bucks managed to trade up, though if you're banking on that scenario you're likely to be disappointed. We can also probably forget about a number of the guys from the right column based on perceived value and potential fit issues. For example, after the Johnny O'Bryant Experience I don't see the Bucks reaching for an LSU power forward in the first round (sorry Jarell Martin...and Jordan Mickey), while Louisville combo guard Terry Rozier seems like an unlikely fit for a number of reasons (non-elite smallish combo guards who don't pass much = meh).
To that end, I shared on Friday a table summarizing the guys who might be in the conversation, and for the sake of comparison below I've also added the top prospects who certainly won't be around at 17 -- they're grayed out, so don't get any ideas. For reference I also included a number of not-good-enough-for-17 types in reddish pink, so bottom line focus your mock efforts on the white rows. In addition to each prospect's Top 100 ranking from DraftExpress and Chad Ford, I've also added columns showing projected 5-year wins above replacement (WARP) as projected by ESPN's Kevin Pelton plus Layne Vashro's Expected Win Peak projection.
Picking 17th is of course very different from picking second, so don't expect everyone on the Bucks' board to take them up on an invite to work out in Milwaukee. While all of the top prospects were happy to talk to the Bucks when they were sitting near the top of the draft a year ago, you would expect a fair number of mid-first round prospects to balk at the chance to do so this year. Kidd's presence and the improved vibe around the team will help, but picking outside the lottery makes it a challenge, and some wings and combo forwards (or their agents) may also be wary of getting road-blocked by the long-term presence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and (presumably) Khris Middleton at the 2-4 spots. That's just part of the draft process, though it's not to say the Bucks will pass on a guy just because his agent doesn't let him come in for a work out.
This week we'll plunge into the numbers a bit deeper, going in depth with each positional group and how the various prospects stack up physically, statistically and fit-wise. Anyone we missed? Anyone who should be pegged in a different category? Hit us up in the comments and we'll have much more as the week goes on.