Remember when the Milwaukee Bucks GM search was a train wreck fiasco and it’s all we could complain about? I do too! Luckily the NBA Draft has come and gone, giving us something else to critique, nitpick and get upset about. Jon Horst’s first draft as General Manager of the Bucks featured some second round scheming and resulted in the Bucks getting two intriguing players.
The Bucks selected D.J. Wilson, a PF from Michigan 17th in the first round, and in the second they acquired Sterling Brown, a SG from SMU, from Philadelphia selected 46th. They technically picked Sindarius Thornwell 48th, but he was sold to the Los Angeles Clippers in a draft night transaction. The Wilson selection wasn’t universally adored by any means, but it didn’t result in this either which is a good sign. At 17 the Bucks were faced with a glut of possible big men and they passed on each of them for the 21 year old redshirt sophomore from Michigan prompting more intrigue than ire. Brown seems to be a beloved player who could blossom into a legitimate 3-and-D prospect. Let’s take a look at what these two players could offer the Bucks over the next few years.
D.J. Wilson - PF, Michigan
Wilson finally burst onto the scene as his redshirt sophomore year progressed having a very impressive March as his team went on to win the Big Ten Tournament amid serious complications and earn a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. His development through his three seasons and especially his growth in his final season showed the Bucks Wilson’s dedication to growing his game. At 6’10” and 234 pounds with a 7’3” wingspan Wilson has an imposing physically gifted body that makes him an exciting prospect on both ends of the floor. He’s a fluid athlete with great footwork and speed.
Wilson projects to be a backup PF for the Bucks, but his versatility is what set Wilson apart in the eyes of the Bucks decision makers. On the offensive end Wilson shows a good jumper, solid ball handling and an elusiveness. He shot 37% from the three-point line on 101 attempts, using his quick trigger, good mechanics and his length to get shots off with ease from deep. 92% of his threes were assisted, via Hoop-Math.com, so if he can extend his range consistently he’ll be a solid spot up shooter for the Bucks.
With many people slotting him in as a backup to Giannis Antetokounmpo and a possible Teletovic replacement at times, it’s evident that Wilson’s offensive game is more dynamic than the Serbian sharpshooter. Wilson’s athleticism and ball handling skills make him a threat to attack a hard closeout with a straight drive to the rim. He won’t be breaking too many ankles, but his footwork is a weapon, often throwing in a spin move on his way to the paint to get him extra space. Spotting up on the outside he also leverages his shooting into backdoor cuts and elusive action off ball toward the rim where he shot 83% last season via Hoop-Math.
That spin move highlights how Wilson prefers to avoid or elude contact when possible. Many of his backdoor cuts got him wide open dunks or he’ll leap, hang in the air and maneuver the ball around the rim protector with his length to get his shot off. Wilson can do some work in the pick and roll by either popping out for a jumper or rolling to the rim for a dunk or push shot. In the post Wilson uses his footwork to spin and pivot for fading jump shots and turnarounds. His length and height make it nearly impossible for any defender to contest his shot down low. If he has good position inside Wilson can snag a board on either end with his length and big hands, but one of the major red flags were his low rebounding numbers for a PF. On offense he’ll throw down a put back -- he had 27 this past season according to Hoop-Math -- from the inside or running in from the three-point line for a highlight dunk and a 6.7 offensive rebound rate. On the defensive glass he prefers to sprint out in transition ceding rebounds to his fellow frontcourt players and jumpstarting quick offense.
Defensively there’s a lot of potential to Wilson’s game. His length and speed make him a candidate to switch almost anything, but his late-blooming body still needs time to bulk up if he’s ever going to effectively guard centers consistently at the pro-level. His wingspan will make him a nuisance against forwards in the post if they try to bully him, and he’ll be able to guard them on the perimeter as well. His quickness will allow him to switch onto smaller guards, and he’ll be able to slide with them along the outside and he can utilize his length to recover if they get around him. His 5.2 block percentage last season shows he can be a deadly help side defender and a close out machine thanks to his speed and length.
Wilson should get plenty of opportunities this season, especially if Michael Beasley leaves the team, and if he can grasp the Bucks defensive scheme he could be a great cog. On offense he’ll compliment the team well with his shooting and dynamic movements to keep defenses honest and vigilant. He’s an older player, but there’s still a lot of potential in Wilson’s game for the Bucks coaching staff to extract.
Sterling Brown - SG, SMU
Brown is a senior coming off a really successful senior season at SMU, and many people are projecting him to be a second round sleeper in the same vein as Malcolm Brogdon last year. He’s a 6’5” SG with an almost 6’10” wingspan weighing 225 pounds. In fact he has a lot of the same skills as Brogdon and could make a good sidekick in the Bucks backcourt.
Brown isn’t an explosive athlete, but he’s built to grind it out, body up and outwork his opponent. His defensive ability is the most exciting aspect where he shows toughness, intelligence and a desire. He’s quick enough to stick with most guards and his strength helps him fight through screens and overpower smaller players while he can also hold his own against bigger players using his length to compensate for his shorter size. He’s a competitive guy who brings an intensity and drive to the defense. In contrast to Wilson’s low rebounding number, Brown shows a penchant for snagging boards on both ends, putting his thicker frame to good use in busting his butt for position. Last year he posted a 16.9 defensive rebounding rate, via barttorvik.com, for 6.0 defensive boards per 40. He can do some work in transition, but he seems to prefer the hustle and bustle in the box before getting out and going. He won’t be a constant lockdown defender, but he’ll work hard and within a good defensive game plan and scheme Brown would be a definite plus.
Offensively Brown is somewhat limited, but he does some things very well. The number that jumps out immediately is a 45% three-point percentage last year on 136 shots at 4.8 per 40. His length and release make his shot tough to block, and he has solid and consistent mechanics on his shot. 86% of his made threes were assisted, via Hoop-Math.com, and he’s most comfortable in a catch-and-shoot situation, but when he needs to he can get a good shot up off of a couple dribbles. As a playmaker Brown isn’t exceptional, but he posted a 1.54 assist/turnover ratio with 3.7 assists per 40. He can run the pick and roll getting himself a mid range jumper or floater. He’s much more effective as a secondary ball handler or an offensive role player because his ball handling can be a little loose.
Brown only shot about 50% at the rim his senior season because he can’t get there with much ease. He’s better at attacking a closeout with a straight drive rather than slashing his way to the rim. Additionally his lack of explosion and smaller frame make it tough to finish at the rim against big defenders, often settling for mid range jumpers which he shot 44% on last season. If Brown sticks to the Bucks offense and doesn’t try to do too much on his own he should fit well as a backcourt complement and as another weapon for Giannis to unleash.
Brown could slot in as a guard to take some of Jason Terry’s minutes, and as another non-ball dominant guard alongside Giannis. He could be a good replacement for Dellavedova or Brogdon if either faced some injury time as well. His size may allow him to play at the small forward position if needed. The 3-and-D prospect is ready to contribute immediately defensively and if his shot translates he could be another great second round pick for the Bucks.
Bronson Koenig - PG, Wisconsin
The Bucks signed Wisconsin point guard Bronson Koenig to a two-way contract. He’ll definitely see some serious time in Oshkosh with the Wisconsin Herd, but he’s got some skills that could fit on the Bucks as well. He’s a great shooter and his athleticism, fluid passing and explosiveness, although never needed in college, could be unleashed at the pro level. I did an in-depth breakdown of Koenig’s college career and what he could bring to a pro-team over at Bucky’s 5th Quarter a few days ago.