Bucks may face tough decision on top draft pick

By GERY WOELFEL

There have been numerous instances over the years where the Milwaukee Bucks, like every NBA team, had to make a difficult decision concerning a potential draft pick.

To wit:

  • Back in 1979, the Bucks were ridiculed by many teams for selecting Sidney Moncrief with the fifth overall pick. Moncrief had knee issues, and some teams were convinced his pro career would be a short one.

Moncrief not only played 11 seasons but he was a five-time All-Star, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and is now in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Then, there was the time the Bucks made Andrew Bogut the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. Again, some NBA and basketball officials criticized the Bucks for the selection, saying Bogut had a serious eye problem – macular degeneration – that could negatively impact his career.

While Bogut didn’t live up to the expectations of a No. 1 pick, he nevertheless played 15 seasons and collected a few individual awards along the way – All-NBA Rookie first team, All-NBA third team and All-Defensive second team. He also picked up a championship ring after playing a key role in the Golden State Warriors winning the 2015 title.

  • Numerous teams “red-flagged’’ guard Malcolm Brogden and wouldn’t take him in the 2016 draft because of a foot problem. But the Bucks got the OK from their medical staff and took Brogden in the second round, It turned out to be a coup.

Brogden was chosen the Rookie of the Year and now, as a member of the Indiana Pacers, is considered one of the best two-way players in the league.

Bucks officials also had major concerns, which proved to be justified, with Joel Embiid in the 2014 draft. While the Bucks loved Embiid’s immense basketball skills, they were quite concerned about Embiid’s back and knee woes that it made their decision to select Jabari Parker with the second overall pick all the easier. Unfortunately for Parker and the Bucks, he would suffer two anterior cruciate ligaments injuries to severely hamper his career.

Which brings us to Thursday night’s NBA draft. There’s a possibility the Bucks may face another tough decision regarding a potential draft pick.  That’s because Jared Butler, a talented all-around guard who helped Baylor win the NCAA championship, may still be on the board when the Bucks make their first pick, the 31st overall.

Butler, whose rock solid all-around game resembles Brogden’s in many ways, was considered a lock to be picked in the 20 range. And he still could. But some NBA officials believe Butler may slide, possibly to the Bucks.

“He could be there for Milwaukee,’’ an NBA scouting director said. “I’m hearing he’s sliding a bit.’’

Butler, who was a consensus first-team All American after averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 assists last season, has knee issues and a heart condition that has some teams concerned.

Despite those physical issues, Butler didn’t miss a game or practice while a junior at Baylor last season. But he was referred last month to the NBA’s fitness-to-play panel, which eventually cleared him.

“We’ve had (NBA) players who had heart issues but this, from what I understand, is different,’’ an NBA official said. “So, there’s a bit of an unknown.

“It’s going to be up to their medical staffs and medical staffs have differing opinions. It’s going to be interesting to see where he (Butler) ends up.’’

Bonus shots

  • It’s no secret the Philadelphia 76ers are shopping standout guard Ben Simmons. Sources said one team to keep a close eye on is New Orleans, which is attempting to surround rising star Zion Williamson with another big-time player. The Pelicans, sources said, are focusing more on Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry.
  • It’s also no secret Sacramento guard Buddy Hield isn’t content and would welcome a trade. The Kings are trying to accommodate him and are actively looking to move him. The Lakers and 76ers are among several teams interested in the sharp-shooting Hield.

The Kings are also receptive to moving power forward Marvin Bagley III., who was the second overall pick in the 2018 draft.

  • Cleveland has shown keen interest in forward Jalen Johnson, who is generally regarded as a mid-first round selection. But the Cavaliers don’t have a mid-first round pick and there is now speculation they may try to acquire one, possibly by offering young guard Collin Sexton.

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