The Bucks have had an up and down season that will almost without a doubt end them somewhere in the lottery. The Bucks will enter the offseason with a clear set of needs, they have their clear cut established starters at the Shooting Guard, Small Forward, and Power Forward spots, but they still will have questions at Center and Point Guard. The incumbent starters MCW and Greg Monroe will both enter contract years and have both been the subject of multiple trade rumors. The bench will almost definitely include some of this years youth but all the veterans excluding Henson will be free agents. So there are holes across the board that Hammond will have to fill as he sees fit.
There have without a doubt been positives from the season that a fan can takeaway, but one of the best parts of being a below average team is the chance to add an impact player in the draft. The odds are stacked against the Bucks of getting a top 3 pick and a blue chip prospect, but there is always talent to be found through the draft. Of the Bucks current starting lineup only one guy was a top five pick (Jabari Parker), the other four starters all went 10th or later. The Bucks will draft somewhere between 8th and 12th in all likelihood and could add a guy who is in the rotation on future Buck’s playoff teams.
This piece will overview the top sixteen guys for the Bucks in this draft, this is specifically for the Bucks so forwards are valued less, shooting is valued a little more. This is just an effort to highlight some guys the Bucks could be interested in and how they would fit on the roster.
1.) Brandon Ingram – SF/PF – Duke
I covered Ingram at length here, but long story short Ingram is a game changer on both ends. He can shoot lights out and has insanely long arms. He does not currently fit with the Bucks, but he would give them a very good backup for Giannis and Jabari, he is too talented to pass on for a better fitting guard or center.
2.) Ben Simmons – PF – LSU
I also covered Simmons previously which can be found here. Simmons has some of the best court vision I have ever seen in a draft prospect, he can see all over the court and knows how to get the ball to his teammates. He was also an elite rebounder this year at LSU which is statistically one of the best translating facets of a player’s game. Simmons has serious jumper problems though, but much like Ingram he has too much talent to pass on.
3.) Jaylen Brown – SF/SG – California
Three is where the draft gets fascinating, I have Brown as the third option here for a few reasons. He is super athletic and can get to the line at will, these are great signs to showcase Brown’s upside. He cannot shoot at all though, which makes him a huge problem, for the Bucks I would use him as the first swingman off the bench
and just have him focus on defense and retool his shot to begin with. I think his upside is enormous, but his game is very raw. You just do not get many chances to add athletic, talented wings in the draft and as the league will show the game is won on the wings.
4.) Dragan Bender – C/PF – Croatia
Bender is a very interesting upside pick, because of the contract he is signed to the day he could officially come over might not be until 2019 which makes him a long term pick. He moves well for a guy his size, but his physicality is definitely something that should be questioned. He has a decent shot, but he rarely sees the floor for Maccabi Tel Aviv and his stats are all inherently small sample size questions. Interviews and the combine (if he comes) will be ky for him to securing a high spot, which might not be a priority for him. (Draft spot salary only applies if you come over in the 3 seasons following the draft.)
5.) Jamal Murray – PG/SG – Kentucky
Murray has been one of the best shooters in college basketball this season making over three 3s a game and shooting over 40%. He is an expert at using screens to get open and has helped anchor a Kentucky team through a down year. His inside game is far from fantastic, but in today’s NBA if you are going to have one elite skill, shooting is a good choice. He even got to the free throw line at a fair rate, he was able to create for himself, but struggled when creating for others. His position in the NBA is questionable, because of his lack of PG abilities, but that makes him perfect for the Bucks who have Giannis and Khris already creating.
6.) Jakob Poeltl – C – Utah
Poeltl has been nothing short of a force for Utah this year, the man who would have been a lottery pick last year returned for his sophomore season and has improved virtually across the board. His scoring and rebounding are up, as well as his free throw percentage. He is a fairly mobile 7 footer, but he is not particularly explosive or a dominant shot blocker, he has short arms as well merely 7’2″ wingspan for his 7’1″ frame. He could end up somewhere between Steven Adams and Miles Plumlee two guys I see as comparable, he positions himself well and could end up being solid on both ends. Unlikely to fall out of top 10.
7.) Buddy Hield – SG – Oklahoma
Hield has burst onto the national scene with a POY caliber season where he has been shooting lights out from all over the court. This year he has been an
absurd 46% on four 3pm a game. Per game he has been putting up 24 points on an absurd 66.6% True shooting. Hield can do a little bit of everything elsewhere, but make no mistake Buddy Hield is a shooter and that will likely always be his calling card. If he could play point guard, or even just guard point guards, he would be the perfect type of guy for the Bucks, who are still in desperate need of shooting.
8.) Ivan Rabb – PF/C – California
Rabb would be a phenomenal center prospect if he was about 3 inches taller, as the result stands he is a tweener big man, but this might be the perfect era for that. He has been a near elite finisher at the rim in college, but his jump shot is virtually non-existent. He is a good rebounder and could be a fit for the Bucks backing up John Henson, he could provide a cheap change of pace option, but also has the foot speed to guard next to him, but would not fit offensively.
9.) Thomas Bryant – C – Indiana
Bryant was short of dominant in his first year at Indiana, but he was very good. At 6’11” 245 he is an imposing figure on the court and could give the Bucks a more physical look at center. A concern about Bryant would be how his rebounding projects, he was not a force on the glass, but he was a presence. He could be a very solid option in the pick and roll, setting solid screens and finishing around the rim. He shot 68% from the field this year demonstrating his finishing ability, he also shot 70% from the line and was a decent shooter from distance in high school.
10.) Wade Baldwin IV – PG – Vanderbilt
Baldwin has an outstanding 6’10” wingspan for his 6’3″ frame, he shot well over 40% from 3 this year. He was able to give point guards fits this year when he is locked in and defending he is one of the best defensive point guards in the nation. He would be a perfect fit in the Buck’s offense which does not call for a creating point guard, but would allow him to D up the point guards and spot up in the corners on offense. The biggest knock on Baldwin would be a lack of creating ability, which could be minimized on the Bucks roster, but is a flaw worth noting nonetheless.
11.) Timothe Luwawu – SG/SF – France
Luwawu is a standout wing player from Europe, with a short compact stroke from three. He appears to have solid wingspan that would make him projectable on defense, but he seems to lack engagement on that end overall. He has a decent off the dribble game when someone is too agressive on a closeout, in a staggered lineup he could fit fell with Jabari or Giannis, but near term it is tough to see a fit for him as a starter, but once you get past 10 a rotation guy is a good target.
12.) Furkan Korkmaz SF/SG – Turkey
Korkmaz’s scouting report reads very similar to Luwawu’s, but he is another promising wing from Europe. He has a more natural feel for scoring than he does, but his athleticism is a little lacking compared to Luwawu. He has a decent amount of bounce in his game and is a very smart cutter off ball. The thing that makes him perfect for the Bucks though is his smooth compact shot, he would be perfect to work as a scorer next to everyone of the Big 3 in bench lineups.
13.) Kris Dunn – PG – Providence
Kris Dunn is a very similar player to MCW both good and bad. He shares the high turnover rate and while his shot is likely better, its also very much a work in progress. He is 22, which very much concerns me about his ability to improve his shot going forward. Dunn is a very good defender in college, but he tends to gamble on steals more than almost any NBA player I can think of, but his instincts are fairly good. He is a good to great athlete, with great size for the PG position, which is a huge plus for him. He was a dominant force for Providence, but in terms of fit with the Bucks its questionable, but as you get this deep in the draft his talent becomes too much to pass on.
14.) Skal Labissiere – C/PF – Kentucky
Labissiere came into the draft with a chance to go in the top 3 of this draft, this season has gone almost entirely wrong for Labissiere, but he was still able to make an impact on a good Kentucky team. He is an athletic 7 footer with a passable jumper, but the rest of his game is very raw. If he can reach his ceiling he would be an athletic rim protector who could thrive in pick and pops. That is just a massive IF for Skal at this point, one thing to keep in mind is that he had guardian issues which prevented him from playing his last year of high school ball. On the Bucks Skal would learn how to play center backing up Monroe and Henson assuming the Bucks go through the summer holding onto both of them.
15.) Henry Ellenson – PF/C – Marquette
Ellenson will likely go much higher than this in the draft, but he is just a horrible fit here, unless he seriously shores up his defense and can play center. Ellenson is a tremendous rebounder and has a pretty smooth stroke and projects to be a stretch big. That said he really struggles on defense and on a good team he would be tortured in the pick and roll all day. I think this stems from playing inferior competetion for most of his life rather than a lack of ability, I think he can improve on that end. On the Bucks he would be the backup power forward, but I can’t see him getting much burn when Jabari and Middleton already backup Giannis at the 4.
16.) Denzel Valentine – SG/SF – Michigan State
Valentine has moved in and out of the lottery on big boards all year, the swingman from Michigan State did it all for the Spartans this year, averaging a team high 7.8 assists per game as well as 7.2 rebounds per game. He finished his college career with 265 made three pointers on a career 40.8%. He would be an intriguing fit on the Bucks and I think the argument can be made that he should be much higher on this list. He could definitely handle secondary play making and ball handling duties, his shooting should translate as well.
I am going to end my big board here, there could be late risers in the process (see Cameron Payne from last year’s draft), but as of right now I would say there is a sizable dropoff after Valentine to the next guy. There are some non-shooting wings, offense first big men, and poor shooting point guards, but nobody that seems like a good enough fit that the Bucks would reach for. The Buck’s also own two second round picks their own and the Pelican’s they will get the chance to swing for the fences with either of those as well. That said I would bet the Bucks do not enter next season with 3 rookies, they will be trying to win and will value those roster spots dearly. This is the first of series of previews of the off season, where we will highlight possible moves John Hammond could make this summer.