Welcome back to “What If...” a series that will cover and go through notable Milwaukee Bucks moments and wonder, what if the opposite happened? Most of these will reverse painful moments in Milwaukee Bucks history, but sometimes the “what if” takes away the good and leaves us with a darker timeline. Kyle has been holding down this corner for awhile, but SB Nation NBA team blog editors recently held a redraft of 2014-2016 for its “What if week”
Redrafts are all the rage in these pandemic days. They’re evergreen content, and usually, it means your team will end up with a significantly better pick than they made back in the day. In this case, we went through with fellow SB Nation team site editors and redrafted from 2014-16. The rules were you could pick any player from either round, as well as any undrafted players from that season. I think we came out looking pretty, pretty, pretty good, but I’ll let everyone else be the judge of that.
2014 NBA Draft
Bucks Original Selection: Jabari Parker
Re-draft Players Already Picked: Joel Embiid
Re-draft Bucks Selection: Nikola Jokic
There was some debate in the Brew Hoop chat about whether to go with Marcus Smart or Jokic here, but ultimately the combination of size, skill and passing ability was just too tantalizing to pass up. Jokic has emerged as one of the few centers in the league who can also act as an offensive fulcrum for their team. He’s the pivot point of Denver’s offensive sets, able to work passing lanes with his height from the top of the key and dishing to cutters twirling towards the hoop.
Inside, he’s a solid finisher at the rim, ranking in the 60th percentile among bigs the last two seasons, per Cleaning The Glass, but an elite midrange shooter for his size at 53% this season. While his 3-point jumper isn’t deadly (33.8% career mark), it’s still solid enough that defenses can’t abandon him around the arc. His necessity for the ball may prove a somewhat difficult fit with Giannis, but I ultimately wanted the best talent on the board and thought he could provide some reprieve during the offensive minutes when Giannis sits. Also, I don’t think you can ever have enough elite passers and Bud would find a way for him to co-exist alongside Giannis. Plus, the baseball passes to Giannis in transition would be glorious.
2015 NBA Draft
Bucks Original Selection: Rashad Vaughn
Re-draft Players Already Picked: Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis, Myles Turner, D’Angelo Russell, Kelly Oubre, Josh Richardson, Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier, Justise Winslow, Larry Nance, Christian Wood, Norman Powell, Frank Kaminsky, Bobby Portis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Re-draft Bucks Selection: Royce O’Neale
This one was significantly tougher to gauge given we had to wait for the 17th selection, but I thought O’Neale offered the best fit as a player in this range despite his older age. While going undrafted originally and not making his first NBA appearance until October 2017, he’s turned himself into a solid enough two-way player that has started a majority of games for the Jazz this year. His per-game averages won’t blow anyone over, but he’s up to 38.9% shooting from deep on 3.3 attempts per contest. He’s a low-usage wing player who could fit within the rotation and add some depth, perhaps replacing Pat Connaughton minutes or something along those lines.
2016 NBA Draft
Bucks Original Selection: Thon Maker
Re-draft Players Already Picked: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Pascal Siakam, Jamal Murray, Domantas Sabonis, Buddy Hield, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LaVert
Re-draft Bucks Selection: Dejounte Murray
I strongly considered Fred VanVleet in this spot, but it just didn’t feel right to pick him after what he did to Milwaukee last year in the Playoffs. So, I went with the potential upside of Dejounte Murray, who lost last season to his torn ACL. Murray offers a tall point guard with the kind of defensive skills at the point of attack that could provide a solid complement to Eric Bledsoe and George Hill. He’d likely still have some trouble bullying around and through screens given his lanky frame, but he’s a menace as an on-ball defender, with one of the best steal percentages (3.1%) among all point guards in the league.
The primary issue has been his slow to come along 3-point jumper. He attempted only 57 total his first two years in the league, but is up to 37.8% on 90 attempts this season. At this point, it’s impossible to know whether he will become a solid shooter from that area given the dearth of attempts. It’s something he would have to improve upon if the Bucks wanted to groom him as their point guard of the future. He would also need to improve his finishing at the rim (57% — 39th percentile among points). If nothing else, he would’ve offered significantly more trade value than Thon likely did last season.
So that’s it, a full redraft with Jabari Parker, Rashad Vaughn and Thon Maker out; Nikola Jokic, Royce O’Neale and Dejounte Murray in. How did we do? Who would you have gone with in these picks instead? Let us know in the comments below!