We just found out who the next coach for the Milwaukee Bucks will be, but the off-season still approaches. I thought I’d look toward how this team can get better for next season through the NBA Draft. While the Bucks currently do not hold a first-round pick, they still have the last pick in the draft at No. 58, since the Bulls’ and Heat’s second-round picks were taken away due to tampering.
While general manager Jon Horst has floated the idea of potentially trading up into the first round, I don’t think that happens unless the Bucks are looking to offload some core players like Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, or Brook Lopez. Even rotation players like Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and Grayson Allen might not be enough to get into the top 30.
Instead, I’ll be focusing on some second-round players who could be good pieces moving forward for Milwaukee. With the age of the roster as a whole, almost any infusion of young talent will be a positive for Milwaukee. With that said, here are my three players the Bucks should heavily consider picking up in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Mouhammed Gueye (Ranked 48) - 6’11” Big - Washington State
The Bucks need to stack up on front-court players. As it sits, the Bucks only have Giannis, Lopez, and Portis under contract. Jae Crowder, Joe Ingles, and Meyers Leonard are going to become free agents, leaving a lot of holes in the depth up front for Milwaukee. That’s where Gueye steps in with a strong set of tools, especially on the offensive end.
In two seasons at Washington State, Gueye averaged 10.7 points, and 6.7 rebounds with shooting splits of 48.9%/27.7%/61.3%. He has been a starter since he stepped on to campus, but it was this past season is where he really took off. In 33 games, the Dakar, Senegal native put up 14.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Gueye has a full range of tools on the offensive end to put up points with a strong presence down low and a good-looking jumpshot to hit from the perimeter.
While the three-point percentage isn’t quite there yet, there is a lot of upside to his jumper. It reminds me in some ways of Kevin Durant’s jumpshot. I’m not saying that Gueye will reach those same heights as a player, but the smoothness of his jumper is a good sign moving forward. Gueye has also been noted as a good player in transition by Sports Illustrated.
However, his greatest strength could be his rebounding. Gueye finished fourth in the Pac-12 in rebounding behind N’Faly Dante from Oregon, Oumar Ballo, and Azuolas Tubelis from Arizona. While not the greatest defensive rebounder, Gueye eats on the offensive glass as he averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds per game for the Cougars.
The 20-year-old forward hasn’t shown a lot on the defensive end in terms of rim protection, averaging only one block per game this season. Even with that being the case he does have a wing span (7’3”) that could lead to more blocks and better contests as he develops his game.
I think the Bucks would welcome a player like Gueye to their roster. He and Portis could bring a nice punch off the bench in the front court. Gueye’s offensive rebounding ability would come in huge for the Bucks to help them get second-chance opportunities. While the Bucks did finish tied for 9th in the association in second-chance points at 14.3 per game, you can never have too many extra points in a game. I think Bucks fans would love to have a guy like Gueye coming to Milwaukee.
Adam Flagler (Ranked 55) - 6’2” Guard - Baylor
Let’s move on to the guard position for this next player target. The Bucks are getting really old at the guard position, with Allen and Jevon Carter being the “youngbloods,” at 27 years old. Meanwhile, Pat Connaughton, Wesley Matthews, Goran Dragic, and Holiday are all 30 or older, with Dragic coming in at 37. That’s where Flagler comes in.
The former Baylor Bear was the main playmaker and scorer on a very talented roster that included LJ Cryer and potential lottery pick Keyonte George. Flager put up averages of 15.6 points and 4.6 assists each night. Flager seems very comfortable in creating his own shot off the dribble in both the mid-range area and behind the three-point line as he had a true shooting percentage of 56.2%. He also is a solid defender for a guard despite his frame, at 6’3” and 185 pounds.
He’s very quick on his feet and has a lot of speed to back that up on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He’s not a versatile defender because of that height disadvantage, but in the right match-up, he can be a very good defensive player.
I think with his ability to play on the ball or off-ball, he can have some good impact and help relieve some of the other players in the Bucks’ rotations. As I wrote in my Portis trade article, the Bucks need more guys who can handle the ball outside of Jrue and Giannis. In certain moments, I think Flagler could be that guy off the bench who can run the offense for you. Plus at his older age for a prospect at 23, he would fit in with the more mature culture the Bucks already have. I would hazard to say if that Flagler falls that far in the second round, he would be one of my steals of the entire draft. He has the production and the skill; it’s all about if he can bring all of that to the NBA and be a productive player.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper (ranked 45) - 6’8 Forward - Marquette University
This last player I thought I’d throw in some spice with the Bucks trading up in the second round.
The Bucks would send pick 58 and the second pick next year from Portland to the Clippers to move up 10 spots to No. 48 and select the Montreal, Quebec native.
If I had made this piece before the NBA draft combine, the Bucks wouldn’t have needed to trade up in the first place. However, after his outstanding performance, Prosper has shot up draft boards. It started during the testing phase where Prosper displayed a 35-inch standing vertical and 40.5-inch maximum vertical which was among the top five of those who tested at the combine. Then during a scrimmage, he scored 21 points while grabbing seven rebounds.
Some have Prosper going in the early second round to even late first round and it’s no surprise why. Prosper has great size at 6’8” with a 7’1” wing span and is good enough of an outside shooter to be the perfect three-and-D wing in the NBA. He proved his chops on the defensive end by guarding some of the best players in college basketball.
NEWS: Marquette's Olivier-Maxence Prosper is keeping his name in the 2023 NBA draft, he told ESPN. "O-Max" has elevated his standing considerably in the eyes of NBA teams at the draft combine and in workouts.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 26, 2023
During Marquette’s run to the Big East tournament title, they had to face two potential future first-round picks in UConn’s Jordan Hawkins and Xavier’s Colby Jones. In a 24-hour period, he put both of them on lockdown as they put up a combined 12 points on 5-for-22 shooting (22.7%), 1-for-11 from three-point range (9.1%), and three turnovers.
Prosper isn’t perfect, however. It will take him some time to find his handle and be able to stay balanced while on the court and his three-point shooting still has room to grow. That’s not to say that he can’t, as in his first year with the Golden Eagles he shot 31.7% from three. After finishing his second season, Prosper shot 33.9% from beyond the arc while taking 55 more threes this past season.
The former Golden Eagle also has the right temperament about him. In all my conversations with him, he seems like a very down-to-earth guy who will do anything for his team. His teammates, like forward junior Oso Ighodaro, recognized that fact perfectly after the team's win over Xavier in the Big East title game.
With the age and unknown contract status of some of the Bucks’ wings, adding a guy like Prosper who could play almost immediately would lighten the load quite a bit. Plus, he wouldn’t have to move his equipment very far from the walls of Fiserv Forum.