Draft isn’t the answer for Bucks

It could be an exercise in futility.

For the Milwaukee Bucks and several other NBA teams, next Wednesday’s draft may not be worth all the time and effort put into it.

This year’s draft, typical of the year our country and world has experienced, isn’t good. It isn’t good at all.

Just ask the people who invest countless hours in evaluating talent for the draft.

“It’s a bad draft,’’ one veteran scout said. “What can I say?’’

Added a player personnel director: “On a 1 to 10 scale, I’d give it maybe a 4.’’

Finally, this from  a scout who has been in the business for more than two decades: “I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bad draft but it’s definitely not a good one. There aren’t impact players, franchise-changing guys, but there are a lot of decent players.’’

For the Bucks and other teams hunting for an NBA championship, decent players aren’t good enough. They need players who can make immediate contributions.

It’s perhaps the biggest reason so many teams are looking to unload their draft pick or picks for established players. According to several sources, the Bucks are one of those teams more than willing to cut a deal.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, teams aren’t exactly knocking on their door for the 24th overall selection. What’s more, the Bucks’ trade assets are far and few between. There’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and there’s Khris Middleton.

After those players, there is a significant dropoff in trade assets. Veteran guard Eric Bledsoe is generally regarded the Bucks’ third-best player. He’s been virtually available from the time he’s arrived in Milwaukee via a trade with Phoenix in November of 2017.

While Bledsoe has marginal market value, there has been chatter the Bucks may now try to package Bledsoe with the 24th pick. Would such a trade proposal move the needle?

“I don’t think it would get them into the lottery,’’ said an executive for an Eastern Conference team. “But it might get them on the fringe of the lottery.’’

A team on the fringe of the lottery is Orlando, which could use a proven starting point guard. The Magic and Bucks front offices are quite familiar with each other. Magic president Jeff Weltman and Bucks general manager Jon Horst worked under current Magic general manager John Hammond when the latter oversaw the basketball operations in Milwaukee.

Making the Bucks’ attempts to move Bledsoe more difficult is that he’s coming off yet another sub-par postseason.

When a player personnel director was asked what the Bucks could get in return for Bledsoe and the 24th pick, he cynically replied, “The 28th pick.’’

While this draft is short on substance and long on mediocrity, there are two other reasons the Bucks could – and should – dump their pick for the second straight year: A rookie will have precious little time to grasp their system before training camp next month and the adverse impact a rookie will have on the Bucks’ payroll.

Because the pandemic forced the draft to be pushed back from June to next week, rookies were deprived from playing in summer leagues, particularly in Las Vegas, where the coaches could break down and work on their games and ease their transition into the NBA.

As for the money, the Bucks aren’t inclined to throw it around. The owners of the small-market team have historically refrained from paying a luxury tax.

Former Bucks owner Herb Kohl only once paid a luxury tax during his tenure as team owner from 1985 until 2014. The current ownership group of Wes Edens, Jamie Dinan and Marc Lasry group hasn’t done it at all.

Don’t expect that to change now, especially after the financial hit all NBA teams took during the pandemic.

So, if the Bucks can’t consummate a trade and wind up keeping the 24th pick, who would they target?

“Good question: At 24, you’re talking about a long list, I mean a long list of guys,’’ an executive said. “Guys you could draft at 20 could be the same caliber of player you could draft at 35. It’s a large group.’’

It sure is. There is a plethora of point and shooting guards who are projected as potential mid-first to late first-round candidates (Nos 15-through 30). Among the point guards are Tyrell Terry of Stanford, Nico Mannion of Arizona, RJ Hampton, who played last season in New Zealand, Cole Anthony of North Carolina, Theo Maledon of France, Devon Dotson of Kansas, Malachi Flynn of San Diego State, Payton Pritchard of Oregon and Tre Jones of Duke.

The shooting guard contingent includes Josh Green of Arizona, Cassius Stanley of Duke, Jahmius Ramsey of Texas Tech, Tyreke Maxey of Kentucky, Elijah Hughes of Syracuse, Isaiah Joe of Arkansas, Desmond Bane of Texas Christian, Jay Scrubb of John A. Logan and Grant Riller of the College of Charleston.

Among the frontcourt prospects are forwards Jalen Smith of Maryland, Zeke Nnaji of Arizona, Jaden McDaniels of Washington, Saddiq Bey of Villanova, Tyler Bey of Colorado, Leandro Bolmaro of Argentina, Isaiah Stewart of Washington, Robert Woodard of Mississippi State and Killian Tillie of Gonzaga.

A trio of centers who could be late first-rounders are Aleksej Pokusevski of Serbia, Daniel Oturu of Minnesota and Vernon Carey of Duke.

“If don’t move off that pick, I could see them taking a foreign player, someone like Pokusevski or Bolmaro or Maledon and let them play overseas for another year,’’ an NBa official said. “I may be wrong, guys slip in the draft, but I don’t think the guys who could come in and help them are going to be on the board where they’re drafting.’’

This year’s draft, typical of the year our country and world has experienced, isn’t good. It isn’t good at all.

Just ask the people who invest countless hours in evaluating talent for the draft.

“It’s a bad draft,’’ one veteran scout said. “What can I say?’’

Added a player personnel director: “On a 1 to 10 scale, I’d give it maybe a 4.’’

Finally, this from  a scout who has been in the business for more than two decades: “I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bad draft but it’s definitely not a good one. There aren’t impact players, franchise-changing guys, but there are a lot of decent players.’’

For the Bucks and other teams hunting for an NBA championship, decent players aren’t good enough. They need players who can make immediate contributions.

It’s perhaps the biggest reason so many teams are looking to unload their draft pick or picks for established players. According to several sources, the Bucks are one of those teams more than willing to cut a deal.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, teams aren’t exactly knocking on their door for the 24th overall selection. What’s more, the Bucks’ trade assets are far and few between. There’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and there’s Khris Middleton.

After those players, there is a significant dropoff in trade assets. Veteran guard Eric Bledsoe is generally regarded the Bucks’ third-best player. He’s been virtually available from the time he’s arrived in Milwaukee via a trade with Phoenix in November of 2017.

While Bledsoe has marginal market value, there has been chatter the Bucks may now try to package Bledsoe with the 24th pick. Would such a trade proposal move the needle?

“I don’t think it would get them into the lottery,’’ said an executive for an Eastern Conference team. “But it might get them on the fringe of the lottery.’’

A team on the fringe of the lottery is Orlando, which could use a proven starting point guard. The Magic and Bucks front offices are quite familiar with each other. Magic president Jeff Weltman and Bucks general manager Jon Horst worked under current Magic general manager John Hammond when the latter oversaw the basketball operations in Milwaukee.

Making the Bucks’ attempts to move Bledsoe more difficult is that he’s coming off yet another sub-par postseason.

When a player personnel director was asked what the Bucks could get in return for Bledsoe and the 24th pick, he cynically replied, “The 28th pick.’’

While this draft is short on substance and long on mediocrity, there are two other reasons the Bucks could – and should – dump their pick for the second straight year: A rookie will have precious little time to grasp their system before training camp next month and the adverse impact a rookie will have on the Bucks’ payroll.

Because the pandemic forced the draft to be pushed back from June to next week, rookies were deprived from playing in summer leagues, particularly in Las Vegas, where the coaches could break down and work on their games and ease their transition into the NBA.

As for the money, the Bucks aren’t inclined to throw it around. The owners of the small-market team have historically refrained from paying a luxury tax.

Former Bucks owner Herb Kohl only once paid a luxury tax during his tenure as team owner from 1985 until 2014. The current ownership group of Wes Edens, Jamie Dinan and Marc Lasry group hasn’t done it at all.

Don’t expect that to change now, especially after the financial hit all NBA teams took during the pandemic.

So, if the Bucks couldn’t consummate a trade and wound up keeping the 24th pick, who would they target?

“Good question: At 24, you’re talking about a long list, I mean a long list of guys,’’ an executive said. “Guys you could draft at 20 could be the same caliber of player you could draft at 35. It’s a large group.’’

It sure is. There is a plethora of point and shooting guards who are projected as potential mid-first to late first-round candidates (Nos 15-through 30). Among the point guards are Tyrell Terry of Stanford, Nico Mannion of Arizona, RJ Hampton, who played last season in New Zealand, Cole Anthony of North Carolina, Theo Maledon of France, Devon Dotson of Kansas, Malachi Flynn of San Diego State, Payton Pritchard of Oregon and Tre Jones of Duke.

The shooting guard contingent includes Josh Green of Arizona, Cassius Stanley of Duke, Jahmius Ramsey of Texas Tech, Tyreke Maxey of Kentucky, Elijah Hughes of Syracuse, Isaiah Joe of Arkansas, Desmond Bane of Texas Christian, Jay Scrubb of John A. Logan and Grant Riller of the College of Charleston.

Among the frontcourt prospects are forwards Jalen Smith of Maryland, Zeke Nnaji of Arizona, Jaden McDaniels of Washington, Saddiq Bey of Villanova, Tyler Bey of Colorado, Leandro Bolmaro of Argentina, Isaiah Stewart of Washington, Robert Woodard of Mississippi State and Killian Tillie of Gonzaga.

A trio of centers who could be late first-rounders are Aleksej Pokusevski of Serbia, Daniel Oturu of Minnesota and Vernon Carey of Duke.

“If don’t move off that pick, I could see them taking a foreign player, someone like Pokusevski or Bolmaro or Maledon and let them play overseas for another year,’’ an NBa official said. “I may be wrong, guys slip in the draft, but I don’t think the guys who could come in and help them are going to be on the board where they’re drafting.’’

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