Quick shout out to @BallFromGrace over at Grizzly Bear Blues for this idea and thought exercise.
We are just days away from the 2018 edition of the NBA Draft and plenty of arm chair GMs will either be down right mad or indifferent with their favorite teams’ draft picks and say they could have made a better selection. While that may or may not be true, it does ask the question: can a random number generator draft better than the Milwaukee Bucks?
We’ll start our review with the 2008 draft, since it was John Hammond’s first after being named the Bucks’ General Manager. Starting in 2008 also gives us a solid 10 years of draft history to go through and it is a nice, even number. I set the random number generator from random.org to be from 1-10 and then counted the corresponding number down the draft to see which player the random number generator would have selected if it were the Bucks real life GM.
The Bucks have done plenty of draft night trading, so for trades I counted off starting with the selection the Bucks traded for, not where they picked and then traded from since those picks are quasi-picks for the other team. An example would be in 2011 where the Bucks selected and then traded away their 10th pick, but traded for the 19th. The random number selection goes off the 19th pick, since the Bucks could have shadow selected any player from that point on.
It’s the age old question of man versus machine.
Who will win?
Let’s reopen up some wounds and bring back those repressed memories to find out.
Bucks Selections - Joe Alexander (8th overall), Luc Mbah a Moute (37th overall)
Random Number Selections - Brook Lopez (10th overall, New Jersey Nets), Nathan Jawai (41st overall, Indiana Pacers - traded to Toronto Raptors)
Joe Alexander made NBA history by becoming the first Taiwanese-born player to be drafted, unfortunately that would be the highlight of his career. Alexander played just 59 games for the Bucks before being traded to the Chicago Bulls where he played in only eight games. Mbah a Moute played a total of five seasons for Milwaukee and is currently carving out a niche with the Houston Rockets as he enters the tail end of his 10 year NBA career.
Brook Lopez is an All-Star center and has finished four seasons averaging 20 or more points per game. Lopez’s career carries the random number’s selections as Nathan Jawai only featured in 45 games averaging 2.8 points in nearly 10 minutes a game.
Result - It was always going to be the Random Number
Bucks Selections - Brandon Jennings (10th overall), Jodie Meeks (41st overall)
Random Number Selections - James Johnson (16th overall, Chicago Bulls), Danny Green (46th overall, Cleveland Cavaliers)
We all know about Brandon Jennings’ circuitous route between his initial stint in Milwaukee and his return this past winter. Throughout his career, BJ3 is averaging 14.1 points and just under six assists per game, but has not been an impact player since he was on a rookie contract. Jodie Meeks lasted half a season in Milwaukee and has still stuck around the league and was last seen coming off the Washington Wizards’ bench. It’s arguable that Meeks has had more of an impact, albeit a quieter one, than Jennings in the NBA.
James Johnson has been an impact rotational player for the Miami Heat the past two seasons after bouncing around the league in his 20s. Johnson has set career highs in games played and box score statistics since landing in South Beach. Before Stephen Curry, Danny Green held the record for most three-pointers made in the NBA Finals, and has been a fixture for the San Antonio Spurs this decade.
Result - Close call here, but Jennings gave us “Bucks in Six,” and that’s the tiebreaker
Bucks Selections - Larry Sanders (15th overall), Darington Hobson (37th overall), Tiny Gallon (47th overall)
(note: the Bucks selected Jerome Jordan 44th overall, but traded him to the New York Knicks)
Random Number Selections - Kevin Seraphin (17th overall, Chicago Bulls - traded to Washington Wizards), Da’Sean Butler (42nd overall, Miami Heat), Latavious Williams (48th overall, Miami Heat - traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)
Larry Sanders has not appeared in a Bucks jersey since the 2014/15 season, but he is still famously on the team’s payroll. Darington Hobson appeared in five games for Milwaukee as a rookie and then never played in the NBA again. Keith “Tiny” Gallon never appeared in an NBA game after playing for the Bucks in the Summer League.
In seven seasons and 423 games, Kevin Seraphin averaged just under six points per game while collecting 3.5 rebounds. Da’Sean Butler and Latavious Williams never suited up for an NBA team.
Result - Sanders’ box score stats are better than Seraphin’s, but in half the games played, so we are going with the Random Number.
Bucks Selections - Tobias Harris (19th overall, via Charlotte Bobcats), Jon Leuer (40th overall)
(note: the Bucks selected Jimmer Fredette 10th overall, but traded him to the Sacramento Kings (thank goodness))
Random Number Selections - JaJuan Johnson (27th overall, New Jersey Nets - traded to Boston Celtics), Lavoy Allen (50th overall, Philadelphia 76ers)
Tobias Harris played just 70 games for Milwaukee and was involved in the trade that brought Khris Middleton to town. Harris is only 25 and playing for this fourth different team as he figures to be a key player for the Los Angeles Clippers going forward after averaging a tick under 20 points in 32 games for them this past season. Jon Leuer spent just one season on the Bucks roster and has bounced around the league a bit being a bench player.
JaJuan Johnson crashed out of the NBA after one season with the Boston Celtics. He appeared in just 36 games which is significantly less than Lavoy Allen. Allen has been with the Indiana Pacers for the past four seasons averaging five points and 17 minutes a game - not bad.
Result - Bucks, easily.
Bucks Selections - John Henson (14th overall), Doron Lamb (42nd overall)
Random Number Selections - Maurice Harkless (15th overall, Philadelphia 76ers), Kevin Murphy (47th overall, Utah Jazz)
Statistically, John Henson is coming off the second best season of his career, but his long term fit with the franchise is still a question mark. Henson’s biggest flaw is that he signed a contract paying him more than what his market value is. Doron Lamb played in 100 games and averaged 3.5 points per game. He was traded from Milwaukee to the Orlando Magic during his rookie season and finished his career in a Magic uniform the following season.
Mo Harkless is coming off a season that saw him connect on 41 percent of his three point shots and has carved out a spot as a playable wing coming off the bench for the Portland Trial Blazers. Kevin Murphy played just 17 games for the Utah Jazz and averaged just under one point per game.
Result - The Bucks win this round as Lamb had more of an NBA impact than Murphy as Henson and Harkless have been similar.
Bucks Selections - Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th overall), Nate Wolters (38th overall, via Washington Wizards)
(note: the Bucks selected Ricky Ledo 43rd overall, but traded him to the Dallas Mavericks)
Random Number Selections - Mason Plumlee (22nd overall, Brooklyn Nets), Mike Muscala (44th overall, Dallas Mavericks - traded to Atlanta Hawks)
We all know how Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career has been turning out and it is very clear to the basketball watching community that in five years Giannis will be a top-three player. Nate Wolters won’t be any of those things, but he has a cult following here in Milwaukee and was last seen playing with the Utah Jazz last year.
It is very fitting a Plumlee gets taken by the Random Number and Mason Plumlee has been seen coming off the bench for the Denver Nuggets the past two seasons and averaging 7.6 points per game. Mike Muscala has been similar to Plumlee as a big guy coming off the bench. The former Bucknell great is currently with the Atlanta Hawks and averaged a career high 7.6 points per game last season.
Result - The Bucks, duh.
Bucks Selections - Jabari Parker (2nd overall), Damien Inglis (31st overall), Johnny O’Bryant (36th overall), Lamar Patterson (48th overall)
Random Number Selections - Nik Stauskas (8th overall, Sacramento Kings), DeAndre Daniels (37th overall, Toronto Raptors), Dwight Powell (45th overall, Charlotte Hornets), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (51st overall, New York Knicks)
Suffering two ACL tears has hampered Jabari Parker’s early career and who knows if we will see him in a Bucks uniform again. When he was healthy, Parker was averaging 20 points per game and looked to be the Robin to Giannis’ Batman. Damien Inglis played just one season in the NBA and averaged under two points per game with Milwaukee. Johnny O’Bryant was a bench player for the Charlotte Hornets this past season and averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds for them. Lamar Patterson played two seasons in the NBA, both for the Atlanta Hawks, and in 40 career games he averaged 2.3 points per game.
Nik Stauskas has been a perennial trade piece in his young career as he is now playing for the Brooklyn Nets, his third team. Stauskas has underwhelmed in the NBAsince his sharp shooting days at the University of Michigan. DeAndre Daniels never featured in an NBA game, while Dwight Powell has emerged as a regular for the Dallas Mavericks and is averaging 8.5 points per game. Giannis’ older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, played two games for the New York Knicks before moving back to Greece to play professionally.
Result - Jabari has been better than the Random Number’s quartet and drafting another Antetokounmpo is probably not the best move, so the Bucks win this round.
Bucks Selections - Rashad Vaughn (17th overall)
(note: the Bucks selected Norman Powell 46th overall, but traded him to the Toronto Raptors)
Random Number Selections - Sam Dekker (18th overall, Houston Rockets)
Rashad Vaughn came to Milwaukee under the guise of a three-point threat that could grow into a reliable shooter. Unfortunately Rashad shied from shooting and never showed a lot of confidence in his stroke from deep.
The former University of Wisconsin great would have been welcomed to Milwaukee with open arms had he been selected. After two seasons with the Houston Rockets, Dekker was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers and is utilized as a bench player.
Result - The Random Number.
Bucks Selections - Thon Maker (10th overall), Malcolm Brogdon (36th overall)
(note: the Bucks selected Patrick McCaw 38th overall, but traded him to the Golden State Warriors)
Random Number Selections - Georgios Papagiannis (13th overall, Phoenix Suns - traded to Sacramento Kings), Isaiah Whitehead (42nd overall, Utah Jazz - traded to Brooklyn Nets)
Thon Maker went into the draft as a big mystery and the Bucks decided to take the mystery. The potential is there with Thon, but he has been a frustrating player these past two seasons. Malcolm Brogdon has been anything but frustrating and has been a spot starter and solid contributor off the bench. He became the first second round pick to win Rookie of the Year.
Having Papagiannis on the team would have created the greatest in-roster Wheel of Fortune “Before and After” puzzle with Georgios Papagiannis Antetokounmpo - what a missed opportunity. Papagiannis now plays for the Portland Trail Blazers after two underwhelming seasons with the Sacramento Kings. In his two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, Isaiah Whitehead has averaged 20 minutes coming off the bench.
Result - Drafting the Rookie of the Year helps the Bucks win this round.
Bucks Selections - D.J. Wilson (17th overall), Sterling Brown (46th overall, via Philadelphia 76ers)
(note: the Bucks selected Sindarius Thornwell 48th overall, but traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers)
Random Number Selections - Terrance Ferguson (21st overall, Oklahoma City Thunder), Ike Anigbogu (47th overall, Indiana Pacers)
After a chaotic front office hire, D.J. Wilson was selected in what was the draft equivalent of blindly throwing a dart at a dart board. Wilson has played in just 22 games and has not looked like a NBA player in any of them. Sterling Brown on the other hand, has looked like a professional basketball player. He has shown flashes of being a reliable wing player off the bench.
Terrance Ferguson played 61 games for the Oklahoma City Thunder and averaged 12.5 minutes off the bench for them. At just 19, Ferguson still has time to come into his own and he looks like he will be an effective wing. Ike Anigbogu played just 11 games for the Indiana Pacers mostly in garbage time.
Result - Ferguson > Brown and Anigbogu > Wilson, so the Random Number wins, but barely.
By a 6-4 decision, the humans deciding which players the Bucks will draft did better than the random numbers. It is slightly calming to know that even though the Bucks have made some egregious mistakes on draft day, they are still better than if they were to just draw a name out of a hat.
Okay maybe it is not that calming.