With the NBA Draft just a few days away, it’s time to take a look at whom the Cleveland Cavaliers’ divisional rivals will be selecting in the upcoming NBA Draft. In this post — the second of four — Right Down Euclid senior writer Chris Manning takes a look at the Milwaukee Bucks.
Draft Picks: Nos. 15 and 43
While the Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs last season, being swept by the Miami Heat is not something to be proud of. While there are some very good pieces on their roster, there are more questions than answers moving forward. Three of their best players – Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Reddick – have uncertain futures and it’s likely that two out of those three players are not back next season. Pieces like Larry Sanders are long-term building blocks, but something drastic is going to have to change if the Bucks want to seriously become a contender:
Biggest Strength: Complimentary Pieces
To be frank, there are a lot of solid complimentary pieces on this team. Sanders, Ilyasova and even Jennings could be very good pieces on a contending team. Jennings, in particular, has potential to become a second or third option on a title-contending team. That one is what makes the Bucks interesting. If they were able to acquire a franchise-defining player, they could make a run to the top the East. The issue is where they could acquire such a player. It’s historically been next to impossible to draw (and then keep) players in such a small market like Milwaukee. In the last few years, they’ve only acquired top-shelf talent through the draft or trades. Right now, considering where they are picking and what’s available on the trade market, that’s not possible. One interesting name is Shabazz Muhammad, the UCLA wing.If he falls, could be a steal at No. 15 if the Bucks are willing to roll the dice.
Biggest Weakness: Faith in the Wrong Players
When the Bucks traded Andrew Bogut for Ellis, they added a scorer (albeit a flawed one), but one that is vastly overpaid. Pairing Ellis with Jennings was risky and has had mixed results. They are both guards who need the ball in their hand a lot and both are going to get near max or full max contracts that they don’t really deserve. Committing largely to those two guys made the Bucks fun to watch but with a very limited upside. They would be better off committing to one (ideally Jennings) and flip the other one for assets. If possible, it would be better to trade Ellis and push hard to bring back Reddick than bring back both of their ball-dominating guards. That move would a) save them money and ) give them a rotation that meshes together better. If they do that, they can quasi rebuild without having to fully tank.
Speakeasy Sports columnist, WATH Sports radio host and avid Bucks fan Michael Garr on the Bucks’ Draft Strategy:
You could say the Bucks 2012-13 season was good and bad. It was good because they made the playoffs, something they hadn’t done in three years. But it was also, and probably more, bad because they fired their coach Scott Skiles, and then after being swept by Miami in the first round, got rid of replacement coach Jim Boylan. This offseason hasn’t had a great start either, with some of the star players making it clear that Milwaukee wouldn’t be their “first choice” to play next season. Monta Ellis opted out of the last year of his contract and Brandon Jennings simply hasn’t looked like he wants to play in a small market town for quite a while. J.J. Redick is also a free agent this summer, so there’s a chance that all three guards that Milwaukee had last spring could be gone. At least one of the three will probably end up staying, but it’s possible they could all be gone. Because of this, it would make sense for Milwaukee to take a point guard with the 15th pick. One player that Milwaukee could take is Shane Larkin out of Miami. He may be a bit small, but he’s a playmaker and hustles on both ends of the court. Maybe a guy like Larkin could give Milwaukee a buzz around the city, something like Jennings did back when he made his NBA debut. Another option that could be available is Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse. His 6-6 size will definitely be appealing to the Bucks, something that wasn’t present with Ellis or Jennings. Not only did he average over 11 points and seven assists a game with the Orange, but he also grabbed 4.9 boards a game, something that certainly doesn’t hurt. If both players were on the table, I would give the advantage to MCW just because of the size difference. Still, both players, along with other guards such as Allen Crabbe out of Cal, would be good options for the Bucks, who are in a tough situation with their current backcourt.
Right Down Euclid Predicts:
At No. 15, we predict that the Bucks will select Dennis Schroder, the 6-2 point guard from Germany. At 43, we predict the Bucks will select Solomon Hill, a 6-7 small forward from Arizona.