Just three weeks until the 2015 NBA Draft! Not a whole lot out there in terms of firm information or juicy rumors, but that can only make for a more exciting night, right? Let's fuel the fire with the latest mock draft updates for the Milwaukee Bucks:
ESPN | NBA Mock Draft - Sam Dekker - F, Wisconsin
The Bucks could really use a rim protector, but at No. 17, there just isn't a great one left on the board. Dekker would be a nice fit, however. Jason Kidd seems like the type of coach who could really unleash Dekker. When he plays free, without looking over his shoulder at the bench every time he misses a shot, Dekker can be dominant. He has great size for his position, is a terrific athlete and if he can get more regular on his jump shot, could be a valuable weapon coming off the bench behind Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Dekker would be stuck squarely behind Giannis and Jabari Parker on the depth chart, but he does bring many thing the Bucks covet: athleticism, shooting (maybe), and size. If Milwaukee deems him to be one of the best options available when they go on the clock, that potential plus the Wisconsin connection might be enough to tip the scale.
DraftExpress | Mock Draft 3.0 - Bobby Portis - PF, Arkansas
Milwaukee is very shallow at the power forward spot, where they start Ersan Ilyasova, who is entering the last guaranteed year of his contract. Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo are both combo forwards, while potential free agent Jared Dudley (player option) sees minutes there as well. Portis is more of a traditional 4/5 who projects to be able to space the floor, which is an absolute necessity with the non-shooting Michael Carter-Williams as the primary ball-handler. His toughness and aggressiveness will be welcomed by Jason Kidd.
Quick issue I have with the way Milwaukee's frontcourt situation is sometimes appraised: Giannis and Jabari get referred to as combo forwards, which puts both of them in this weird quantum-superposition state where either both of them or neither of them are playing the nominal power forward position, which then appears as a "hole" in the roster.
So yes, the Bucks are definitely thin at that position in a traditional sense (for whatever that's worth), though that doesn't mean Portis or someone like him would have an easy time finding minutes. While we have yet to see Giannis and Jabari playing heavy minutes together, the league's shift towards smaller, more mobile lineups would seem to make it eminently feasible. The other options (Ilyasova, Dudley?) are inconsistent or limited, which explains the team's interest in adding depth.
Portis looks like more of a prototypical 4-man, but with some of the advanced skills that have become crucial in the spacing-craved NBA. His size (6'10.5", 246 pounds) should also enable him to play some smallball five, which is also a major plus.
Portis might fit that "athletic big" moniker (minus some of the athleticism), but what about the shooter? According to Steve Kyler, Georgia State's R.J. Hunter might be the guy:
Hunter is doing extremely well in the draft process so far. He was solid at his pro day, teams were impressed with him at the Combine and his stock is trending upwards in a pretty interesting way. While most pundits have him in the 20-35 range, there is a growing sense that he might be the guy for the Milwaukee Bucks at 17 if things fall as they are projected. The Bucks are looking for an athletic big who can play the four and the five, but if that does not materialize shooting (specifically from the guard spot) is next on the wish list.
While team officials have yet to announce the players who’ll be working out for them, I’ve been told the following players -- all projected mid-to-late first round picks – will audition for the Bucks before the June 25 draft: power forward Bobby Portis (Arkansas), point guard Cameron Payne (Murray State), swingman Justin Anderson (Virginia), power forward Kevon Looney (UCLA), point guard Jerian Grant (Notre Dame) and shooting guard R.J. Hunter (Georgia State).
The Bucks have been thwarted so far in their attempts to set up work-out dates for Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky and Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker. The prevailing feeling among NBA officials is Dekker and Kaminsky will be lottery selections – or top 14 picks – and won’t fall to the Bucks.
The middle of the first round is a hard spot to sell to prospects, meaning the attending crowd is likely to be primarily late-round picks. But there's a few higher-profile names in that list, including Payne, Portis, Hunter, and UCLA forward (and Milwaukee native) Kevon Looney. Payne would be an interesting get since he's been widely rumored to have a promise in the lottery, while the other names might offer our best hint yet at which prospects are on Milwaukee's shortlist.
If you haven't been keeping up with Giannis Antetokounmpo's excursion to the other side of the world, catch up with pictures and videos on the Bucks' official site!