*I’ll be tweeting live from Milwaukee Bucks draft headquarters tonight at the 2011 Bucks Media Draft Party, so stay tuned for updates as the night progresses.
The general consensus among NBA teams, analysts, and fans is that the 2011 NBA Draft is short on impact talent. However, thanks to months of mock drafts, and trade rumors real or otherwise (Pau Gasol for Kevin Love?!?!?!), drama and suspense will be on par with the final round of poker in Casino Royale.
Regardless of the Gobi Desert-like resemblance of any draft pool, a first-year players draft gives fans and teams the unpredictable and infallible sense of hope. For at least a few months, fans can fantasize that a NBA Lottery pick such as Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, or Alec Burks will replicate their college success at the highest level of basketball.
The longtime assumption has been that the Milwaukee Bucks will be keeping their 10th overall pick and taking either Alec Burks or Klay Thompson to solve their ever-present problem of getting a 9 inch basketball (in diameter) to successfully drop through an 18 inch basket. However, those speculations could be turned upside down if the past week’s worth of trade rumors come to fruition.
Just seven days ago, it seemed that Milwaukee Bucks Director of Scouting Billy McKinney was just keeping all options open by stating the team’s content with the 10th overall pick was matched by their happiness to be fielding offers to trade down. Since Monday, it seems like the latter half of that statement has become a realistic possibility. Here are a few of the main storylines worth noting as the hope before the lockout storm approaches:
1. Scoring, scoring, scoring
One way or another, the Bucks will address their scoring deficiencies through this draft. Offensive help may come in the form of a veteran (bad idea for a team rife with creaky knees, in my opinion), but it will happen.
2. Give a big, take a big
In the event of a trade down in or out of the lottery, the Bucks are most likely to jettison Ersan Ilyasova, opening the door for a potential move to a more traditionally-structured front court. Other than Andrew Bogut, no other current Milwaukee Buck possesses multiple post moves, and a few power forwards (Marcus Morris, Tristan Thompson) could develop into useful inside bangers on offense. I’d prefer a wing to inject some youth into their backcourt, but it’s hard to argue against any move that improves Milwaukee’s roster.
3. Long term insurance
The new hot name attached to Milwaukee is Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, who is supposedly slipping down draft boards because of his expensive buyout from Lietuvos Rytas. On potential alone, Valanciunas is a top 10 pick in this draft, but he is a near-guarantee to pull a Ricky Rubio. Bucks GM John Hammond (much to the dismay of some fans) has enough job security to take a guy that might be stuck in Europe for another year at least, and this pick would definitely make sense as a soon-to-be backup and successor to Andrew Bogut.
4. One and done
Looking at the Bucks roster as it currently stands, it’s entirely possible that Milwaukee may get rid of their second round pick (40th overall). Let’s assume the Bucks take a player ready to contribute immediately at 10, and they follow through on their commitment to 2010 second rounder Darington Hobson. Milwaukee then might view their second pick as nothing more than a trade chip that nets them at least a future second round pick. Hammond has done it before, and he could do it again.