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Ranking the Roster: Chris Livingston gets draft promise at 14th

2023’s Mr. Irrelevant is next up in our poll

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

We have our first rookie selection—from the standard roster, anyway—of our annual Ranking The Roster series today, and it’s former Kentucky Wildcat Chris Livingston, drafted with the final selection (which the Bucks have now received in four consecutive years) of the 2023 NBA Draft back in June. Perhaps reflective of that draft position and how rarely it produces a player who sticks in the league at all, plus the knowledge that he may not have any NBA-ready skill, Livingston bested only the two-way guys and Thanasis Antetokounmpo in terms of how fans view his importance to postseason success.

While I think Thanasis’ closeness with his younger brother has more value than what Livingston could provide to the 2023–24 Bucks, on the court this seems like the right choice. The 6’6” wing could have an NBA future if you squint, and his 220-pound frame profiles well for the type of player Milwaukee could always use in their rotation. At 19 and under a minimum contract that could last for up to four seasons—with two guaranteed—he’ll have some time to prove he belongs, even though he’s likely to spend a fair bit of time with the G League squad up in Oshkosh during the approaching season.

With a clear focus on longer, athletic wings—their shooting ability or lack thereof be damned—not only did the Bucks select him at 58 (which was the final choice in this year’s draft thanks to two forfeitures), but they also apparently were the mystery team who vowed to draft him when they had the chance. That seems like an unworthy privilege for a guy who averaged just 6.3 PPG on .429/.305/.722 shooting with 4.2 RPG in 34 games (starting 26), even for a blue-blood program like Kentucky.

But knowing more about Livingston’s story, it makes a little more sense. He was a consensus five-star recruit whose rankings averaged to thirteenth in his class out of high school in 2022. Livingston also did his senior year at Oak Hill Academy, known for producing dozens of NBA players. Perhaps most notably, superagent Rich Paul of Klutch represents him, and anyone who follows the league closely can attest that Klutch clients often find themselves in pretty good situations.

Kentucky coach John Calipari spoke very highly of him, comments from a Hall-of-Famer who has developed plenty of high-level NBA talent that make you turn your head. But will Livingston even be mentioned in the same breath as other Coach Cal one-and-dones? The safe money says he won’t be, because outside of his NBA-ready body, it’s unclear what he does well. Outside shooting appears to be a clear area for improvement, and in Summer League he only hit on three of his eleven attempts from downtown. Though he did put up 22 points on 9/14 shooting in the Bucks’ final contest in Vegas, his per-game numbers weren’t anything special: 10.6 PPG on .512/.273/.571 shooting with 5.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 1.0 SPG.

Defensively I didn’t think Livingston distinguished himself in any way, but I did appreciate his touch and athleticism inside during that big performance versus the Kings, burying some floaters and hooks in the 5–10 foot range plus this nice finish:

That might play against other rookies and fringe NBA talent, but will Livingston have the strength and footspeed to do it in the pros? We’ll have to see. His deficiencies with shooting and untested defensive abilities seem like they’ll limit his impact at the next level, at least over the next season or two before the Bucks need to decide whether or not to pick up a team option to keep him around. That being said, if he even cultivates one NBA-level aspect of his game, retaining a cheap player will be a no-brainer. If not, he joins Sam Merril and Georgios Kalaitzakis (and maybe Hugo Besson?) as the next in a line of Milwaukee final picks who didn’t stick with the team or in the league.

During the regular season, he seems likely to see garbage time and perhaps rotational minutes here and there depending on the night, but will probably get most of his reps with the Wisconsin Herd. By the time the postseason arrives, Livingston getting any real run would mean he vastly exceeded expectations this season, and/or the Bucks are dealing with significant injury woes. It’s almost certainly not the timeline we’re living in, and in the latter case, let’s hope it isn’t. Nevertheless, we’ll pose the customary question:


Gut Check: how confident are you that Chris Livingston will be in the playoff rotation?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    1 — Not in the rotation at all.
    (122 votes)
  • 19%
    2 — Might play a few rotation minutes here and there.
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    3 — Will get some minutes, depending on the series.
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    4 — Will be a part of the rotation, playing steady minutes.
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    5 — Firmly in the rotation, playing heavy minutes!
    (2 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now

There’s only one rookie left on the island, so congrats to Andre Jackson Jr. for getting this far. Will he be able to beat out one of the Bucks’ two second-year players (by which I mean A.J. Green) or any veterans moving forward? Or are there any other more seasoned players who belong at thirteenth? Decision time:


The 13th Most Important Player to Milwaukee’s Postseason Success is...

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Grayson Allen
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Malik Beasley
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    MarJon Beauchamp
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Pat Connaughton
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    Jae Crowder
    (6 votes)
  • 25%
    A.J. Green
    (35 votes)
  • 31%
    Andre Jackson Jr.
    (44 votes)
  • 31%
    Robin Lopez
    (44 votes)
  • 0%
    Bobby Portis
    (1 vote)
140 votes total Vote Now