With the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery last night, several teams are clamoring for the right to select top prospects like Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson.
The Bucks are just about the furthest team away from this type of luxury, as they surrendered their 2023 first-round pick to Houston in the trade that brought P.J. Tucker to town. While it’s an understatement to say that this trade worked out for the Bucks, missing out on a first-round selection is always a bummer.
Still, it makes sense to pay attention to what the Bucks decide to do with the 58th pick on draft night. After all, Michael Redd and Khris Middleton were both second-round selections (Middleton was picked by the Pistons, but I digress).
It’s also worth mentioning that this pick is far from set in stone. The draft is over a month away, and it’s entirely possible that the 58th pick is moved before then or on draft night. The squad could also make a move to jump forward with cash or future picks. To call this exercise speculative would be an understatement.
With that said, here are some interesting names that might be on the board when (and if) the Bucks make a selection:
Jamie Jaquez Jr. SF, UCLA
If you’ve watched college basketball over the past four seasons, chances are the name “Jamie Jaquez Jr.” rings a bell. He was a key contributor to UCLA teams that made the NCAA tournament in three straight seasons from 2021 to 2023, including a Final Four appearance in 2021. Although he lacks elite athleticism, he has NBA size and isn’t afraid to bang around in the paint for layups and rebounds. The 32.8% from beyond the arc doesn’t jump out at you. However, his shot is far from ugly, and he has the potential to develop as a catch-and-shoot guy.
After the Bucks traded for Jae Crowder—who lacked any sort of enthusiasm and grit to speak of—I’m sure they would be delighted to bring in an experienced wing who has shown leadership and tenacity on a winning team. It’s fairly unlikely that Jaquez Jr. will be available at pick 58. But if he falls and Milwaukee still has that pick, the Bucks would be crazy not to take a chance on him.
Emoni Bates, SG/SF, Eastern Michigan
Emoni Bates is a very interesting prospect. Joining Memphis as a consensus five-star recruit in the 2021 class, he was projected to be a top prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. However, his stock fell dramatically after a 2021 season haunted by injuries and disappointing outings. He had a semi-resurgence in his sophomore season after transferring to Eastern Michigan, averaging 20.2 points per game.
Don’t let the high-scoring numbers fool you, though. Bates was pretty much given free rein on that pitiful Eastern Michigan squad, and he was the furthest thing from efficient as a scorer. Although his length allows him to create space for his jumpers, he has a negative wingspan and an extremely skinny frame that limit his potential as an inside scorer. That, along with an arrest on firearm charges prior to the start of the 2022–23 season make him a concerning prospect with decent upside in the second round.
Jalen Pickett, PG/SG Penn State
Penn State’s offense came out of nowhere near the end of the 2022–23 season, emerging as one of the hottest shooting teams entering the NCAA tournament. That charge was led by Jalen Pickett, a fifth-year senior who averaged 17.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game.
Like Jaquez Jr., Pickett is an older prospect with a low ceiling as a pure athlete. While he was a solid shooter from the outside, he also relied heavily on attacking smaller defenders inside, a luxury that will not be as effective at the next level. With Goran Dragic and Wesley Matthews possibly on the way out, Pickett could serve as an experienced ball handler to come off the bench and provide adequate outside scoring and defense.
Seth Lundy, SG/SF, Penn State
Pickett’s college teammate, Seth Lundy, could also be an option for the Bucks in the latter half of the second round. At 6-foot-6, he shot 40% from three last season, placing him near the top of all of college basketball for players at that size.
While he provides hardly any upside as a passer (seriously, he averaged less than one assist per game last year), he is practically a guarantee as a three-and-D player to come off the bench. The Bucks desperately needed a consistent swingman in their playoff meltdown against the Heat, and Lundy has the skill set to be an instant contributor in that role. You can’t ask for much more than that at this stage of the draft.
Adama Sanogo, C, UConn
Adama Sanogo was a March Madness darling, leading the Huskies in scoring (with 17.2 points per game) as they cruised to the 2022–23 NCAA tournament title. He showed dominance as both a scorer and a defender in the post, and he has impressive athleticism for his size. That all sounds great, but he needs to develop as a shooter. His 3-point shot was nonexistent before this season, and he still needs to develop a consistent midrange shot.
The Bucks were in need of big man depth last year, which prompted them to sign Meyers Leonard in the middle of the season. With Leonard unlikely to return next year and Brook Lopez’s future uncertain, Milwaukee could look to add an experienced center like Sanogo with their late draft pick.