With the 24th selection in the SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft, Brew Hoop selects Theo Maledon, on behalf of the Milwaukee Bucks. Yes, it’s a backcourt player, and hopefully one whose upside will be realized within Bud’s development system. Maledon doesn’t leap off the screen athletically, but he does boast a nearly 6’9” wingspan that would add more length to the Bucks’ backcourt. While he may not be a one-on-one dynamo, the Bucks aren’t looking for someone who can exclusively break dudes down off the dribble from the point guard position. They need someone who can passably hit shots, space the floor for Giannis, and work with him in tandem so Antetokounmpo isn’t always forced to initiate offense and try to barrel through a wall.
The big question will be whether Maledon’s shot will connect. Across his seasons in Europe, he shot 34.6% overall from deep. The percentage has swung wildly from year to year though, moving as much as 5% annually, and he attempted much more than two shots from beyond the arc per game. He is an 82.2% free throw shooter though, and his actual shot mechanics look clean enough. With some smoothing over, the hope is that he could ascend above the morass of mediocre triple-shooters the Bucks have across most of their roster.
What really made Maledon seem like a prime pick here was his potential as a passer. He may not see the floor at an elite point guard level, but he has enough craftiness in the pick-and-roll to hopefully run it at a level above what Donte DiVincenzo did this past season. Maledon is a combo guard, so he’s used to working off-ball, a trait that’s obviously valuable for a Bucks team whose guards routinely don’t have the rock in their hands. If Maledon can find his way as a dribbler and passer who can form PnR chemistry with Giannis, then the Bucks would be ecstatic.
What may be worrying is his general lack of defensive ability. Being a so-so athlete makes it much more difficult to clean up mistakes at the NBA level. It could also hamper his ability to get off Bud’s bench, given his predilection for defensively savvy dudes. Solid defense is usually a rookie’s best path to finding the court early on in their career. If Bud sticks with his zone-drop, at least to some degree next year, Maledon would likely have to improve his strength considerably so he could barrel through defenders for a rearview contest. Early on, I can see opposing teams targeting him heavily with screeners to see if his slight frame can withstand the punishment. He has enough length where he could realistically defend up a position or two in the backcourt, but again, big wings may be able to overpower him.
Maledon may not be the kind of rookie who will come in immediately and be the difference-maker for this team at the point guard position. But, at this point in the draft, the likelihood of any selection actually putting the Bucks over the top next season is extremely unlikely. They’re bereft of young talent almost across the board, and the only remaining backcourt player who is under 30 is Donte DiVincenzo. They need to get younger at that position and pick someone with upside who has room to grow. Given the crapshoot that is the NBA Draft, and especially post-lottery picks, Maledon seems as reasonable as any other prospect at this point. Here’s some highlight tape:
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