The Milwaukee Bucks have not had the greatest stretch of point guards in recent history. Brandon Knight was solid but too ball dominant on a team with Khris Middleton, a growing Giannis Antetokounmpo and rookie Jabari Parker. Michael Carter-Williams was brought in and all Bucks fans know how that ended up. Matthew Dellavedova is a limited player. Malcolm Brogdon has been good but PG might not be his best long-term role, while Eric Bledsoe remains a divisive player in the Bucks universe. All of these guards, with the exception of Delly, are not true floor generals in the vein Milwaukee needs.
With the #17 pick in the draft, Milwaukee finds themselves in familiar territory. This will be the third time in four years Milwaukee will pick at #17 and recent history hasn’t been kind. First was Rashad Vaughn, who was a better chef and pregame dancer than basketball player, while D.J. Wilson has not shown anything to indicate he will be a NBA caliber player. Both were very young, although Wilson was 21 when drafted, which followed suit with the recent home run picks Milwaukee has gone for.
With the timeline currently set to win now and catch up to Philly and Boston in the East, General Manager Jon Horst and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer may want to take a safer pick and get someone who can slot immediately into the lineup. While it would be a risk possibly taking him this high, Jalen Brunson might be the player that fits this mold the best.
In his three seasons at Villanova, Brunson brought playmaking, three point shooting and winning with two national titles. He had a knack for knowing what play needed to happen and when.
Physical Measurements (per NBA combine numbers)
- Height (without shoes) - 6’1”
- Height (with shoes) - 6’2.25”
- Weight - 198.4 pounds
- Wingspan - 6’4”
- Vertical leap - 37”
- Lane Agility - 10.59 seconds
While Brunson is considered undersized especially for a guard, his agility score was very good, finishing fourth out of all prospects at the combine. As our SBNation buddies VU Hoops mentioned after the combine.
“More surprisingly, Jalen Brunson finished in the top half of many of the agility drills. The Wooden Award winner’s draft profile often features a brief discussion of Brunson not having “all the physical tools” or something of that nature, but his quickness was on display when he finished third in the Lane Agility test. Brunson is most valuable to teams as a floor general and scorer, but putting up impressive test numbers can only help his stock.”
When you play on a national title team, that is an indication that you’re talented enough to be on the roster and have a starting role. Brunson had a vital part as the team’s floor general and was arguably the best player on the team or in contention with Donte DiVincenzo and Mikal Bridges. Brunson can make quality passes in the halfcourt and run a quality pick-and-roll with the best of them in this draft class, illustrating his high basketball IQ. He’s an unselfish player who slots into plenty of diverse situations but can emit a positive influence on his team. Brunson was a solid shooter (58.8% eFG percentage, 39.3% career shooter from three on 3.9 attempts per game) and shot distribution will make fans happy with his 39.6% career 3-point attempt rate. Brunson also showed fine athleticism which should help his floor bottom out as at least an average defender.
One of the primary knocks against Brunson is his age, having stayed at Villanova for three years. Part of that is Brunson wanting to be on a winning team or at least improving his stats at the college level. Those additional years are often an indication you might not be good enough for your skills to translate at the next level. We can see the floor with Brunson, but there isn’t much to his ceiling that would warrant a team taking a chance on him when there are other players in his position that possibly have higher upside While Brunson does plenty of things well, he doesn’t have an elite skill. That will limit what he can do on the floor for a point guard which is a stacked position in the NBA with plenty of players touting at least one elite trait to hang their hat on.
With Budenholzer wanting players to make quick, smart decisions with the ball, Brunson could fill that role well and isn’t a turnover-prone player. His shooting could provide the spacing that Giannis will need and he could act as another playmaker on the court for second units. He could be a solid defender and possibly can guard 2s if needed, although his limited size (6’2” with 6’3.5” wingspan) mean he’ll have to tackle smaller guys. He doesn’t have the best athleticism, which could limit his off-the-dribble ability and make him more predictable, but one hopes his translatable shooting would mean he wouldn’t be a net negative on the court. He projects to be a low-end starter or bench player who can lead the bench unit with ease. Considering Milwaukee’s issue with the bench, Brunson could shore up that unit alongside Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Snell, and Sterling Brown. Brunson isn’t going to blow people away, but he doesn’t look like a disappointment at this spot in the draft. After the last two Milwaukee selections, that’s at least something.