Marquese Chriss is a 6’10” power forward out of the University of Washington. The 18 year old carries with him a 7’1” wingspan. Chriss showed an amass amount of talent during his freshman season, but due to inexperience, had a very inconsistent season. Chriss has only been playing organized basketball for four years now, meaning much of his hype is based on his talent, more than his actual work-load.
The eighteen year old draft stock is about as up and down as his game was last season. The mock drafts have him going anywhere from the Celtics at 3, to the back end of the lottery, for teams such as Milwaukee to drool in anticipation that a man as talented as Chriss falls to them in a ‘weak’ draft class. Having a player who has the coordination to jump off his right foot into a one handed lefty alley oop slam, is a great notion for any team. Chriss’ game heavily relies on his athleticism and offensive repertoire to be a plus player on the floor. His defensive game is a struggle, as he has not figured out how much effort it requires to play that end of the floor effectively.
-Athleticism: Chriss measured with a 38.5 inch max vert at the combine, the man is capable of getting off the ground with ease off either foot or off both feet. Not many power forwards around the league with size and the ability to make the highlight reel plays Marquese teased us with during his stay at Washington.
-Floor Spacing: Chriss is very capable of stretching the floor with his ability to shoot from range and drive to the rim finishing hard at the rim. Having a power forward that can face up and hit a jumper or drive past you to the rim is essential in the NBA; Marquese has the potential to be a force on the offensive end. He’s quick enough to drive past you to show off his leaping abilities for the slam, and he shows potential to be a three point threat in the NBA as he shot 35% playing for Washington.
-Upside: Marquese has only been playing organized basketball for four years. It’ll probably take a couple years of development before you really see him comfortable on the basketball court. Right now, he’s making plays based on his athleticism, but in the future when he knows the ins and outs of NBA basketball, he’ll start making winning plays on top of his highlight reel blocks and dunks.
-Rebounding: He was one of the worst rebounders of any prospect that plays in the paint in this draft class. Chriss fails to box out more often than his background in football would lead you to expect. His match-up was gifted many extra possessions as Marquese watched them get the rebound transitioning to an easy dunk.
-Motor: The kid still hasn’t figured out how much energy it takes to swim for an afternoon. Winning at the NBA level requires even the most talented player, to play as hard as he can when he’s on the floor. Watching your match up blow past you for an easy dunk, just isn’t something that he’s going to be allowed to do anymore. I honestly think, with how little basketball he’s played in his life, that the motor issue will work its way out.
-Scoring with his left hand: As much talent as he has with his face-up game, he needs to develop slicing with his left hand to the rim for a soft lay in. He goes right when he drives almost every time, he’s going to face many charge calls if everyone knows which direction he needs to go to get a decent shot with his right hand.
Rookie Year for Milwaukee:
Assuming the Bucks don’t make any trades to the core upon drafting Marquese Chriss, you can expect the rookie to come off the bench attempting to provide us a serious scoring punch. He would be a very talented and exciting bench player, but without improvements rebounding and on the defensive end, he’ll struggle to help the team win games his rookie season. NBA players are too good to be ball watching on defense, they’ll beat him every possession that his athleticism doesn’t make up for the lackadaisical mental game. He’s too well built to physically get by him every possession, but if he’s taking the play off, it’s going to be an easy basket for somebody.
He might not help us win, but man would he be awesome for entertainment purposes. He loves to dunk and looks for the oop even in traffic with the ability to finish in traffic, either right over a guy or he jumps around them for the slam. Not only can he finish strong, but Chriss also can light it up from the midrange area, and has the range to put up a trey or two. His offensive talent is tantalizing.
Future for Milwaukee:
Chriss has been leaping up draft boards since the end of his freshman season because he has so much untapped potential at such a young age. His cocky, fiery demeanor are just positives in my book. The guy is going to need some edge to him if he’s going to become an offensive star. The best scorers naturally hate whoever’s guarding him, Marquese has some of the darkness to him, I dig it.
If Marquese develops into the star player he has the ability to be, the Bucks will have to look at a couple of different options on how to allow him to be a star. The most obvious answer is to decide who you think gives you a better chance to win, Jabari or Marquese, and you trade the lesser for a piece to fill a hole going forward. That gives the Bucks a lot of flexibility going forward, but I am concerned we would find ourselves in the position the 76ers currently face. Teams know they have a redundant frontcourt and need to unload one of their talented centers, so it’s going to be hard for the Sixers to get full market value out of either of their big men. As the Sixers are, we’d be negotiating from behind trying to get rid of one of our talented scoring power forwards.
Our other option would be to start Giannis at Point-Center allowing Jabari to play small forward and Marquese as our power forward. It would be hard to find a more talented group of guys than Middleton, Parker, Chriss, Antetokounmpo, but my concern is that we’d just be asking too much out of Giannis. Lead the offense into its sets, and be the last line of defense on the other end. Jabari and Chriss are tough to play together with their defensive deficiencies. He has a ton of talent, but he fit with our team is rather poor. He might be far gone by the time the Bucks are picking anyway, so it’d still be hard to pass on him if available June 23rd.