After finding gems like Sanders, Antetokounmpo, and Harris I give Hammond the benefit of the doubt with his draft picks. As I watched the 2016 NBA Draft at a sports bar in Oshkosh I was surround by people wearing Bucks apparel. (Flashback to 2013 and there was no Bucks hype for the draft.) When the Bucks came up and Thon Maker was announced most of the fans around me were outraged. They had their hearts set on other players or failed to buy into the Thon hype. I just leaned back in my chair and soaked it all in, I trusted Hammond to make the right pick. This was bigger than Thon, it stems from the fact that Hammond has a string of successful picks and I think he knows how to do this job as well as anyone.
Hammond definitely is not a man without flaws, the other two major departments of his job: free agency and trades have left Bucks fans confused at times. I think he has one colossal failure in recent history, Miles Plumlee, but everything aside from that can be reason through rationally. (And he was able to fix the Miles Plumlee mistake very quickly, in a trade that could prove to be a massive win for the Bucks) In a small market I really struggle to blame the GM for lackluster free agent signings, he does not have his pick of the litter and likely has to overpay to get any player that has a good track record. It is impossible to judge Hammond on these things and not acknowledge the external pressures he has faced, I am not saying to give him an entire pass, but to at least consider that in the thought process.
Hammond is not the only reason I am still willing to trust the Bucks though, the owners keeping him in place has given me a lot of faith in the franchise. Alex Lasry has repeatedly said on Twitter that this is all a long process and they are young and growing. This season was never playoffs or bust, even if Khris had been healthy all year. Khris was by most metrics our best player last season and even if he was surpassed by Jabari and Giannis now, he is still essential to the team going forward. If Khris was healthy I would be more disappointed by the Bucks record, I might even critique Kidd more harshly. Kidd has done some things wonderfully, but continues to struggle in key areas. One thing he does that is perfect for our process is develop young talent. We have seen several young players take massive strides under him, to the point where people think we have one of, if not THE most promising young core in the NBA.
In this aspect the owner’s patience meshed with Hammond’s talent acquisition ability and Kidd’s player development have set up the perfect storm to create a young core that fans can buy into. Is everything perfect right now? No its far from it, but our best players are 22 and we have our main guys under control for the foreseeable future. This season was never about wins and losses, it was about talent development and acquisition. If next season we miss the play offs I will be worried, but until then I am trusting the process.