Under GM John Hammond, the Bucks have always had that “Playoffs or Bust” mentality where they’ve risked the opportunity for top draft picks for the payoff of a low playoff seed. Perhaps it was because of Hammond’s (and even Herb Kohl’s) undying will to succeed or to simply try to keep up with some of the more successful teams in the state like the Packers, Brewers or Badgers. That mindset has put the team in this weird and somewhat scary situation where they have a lot of questions they have to answer now that their season is over.
Ideally, Hammond, Kohl and the rest of the Bucks organization will take a look at the final 3-4 months of the season and see that there needs to be a change. With Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings having uncertain futures, Larry Sanders, John Henson and perhaps Ersan Ilyasova appear to be the main building blocks going forward. Is it risky to put your stock in a group of front-court players with flaws? Yes, absolutely — but they’re really the only worthwhile players who are signed to be with the team for the next 2-3 seasons.
To build a team around those young front-court players, you’re going to have to add distributors that can help them progress as players. Both Monta and Jennings had their flashes as being solid passers but their main job was to be volume shooters which kind of left the front-court players out to dry during large potions of games.
The first place the team could go to fill that need would be the upcoming NBA draft in June. Although there really isn’t a potential superstar to be had, there are a good variety of PG/SG options that would be solid fits on this Bucks team. Some notable names that would be solid fits for Milwaukee would be C.J. McCollum, Michael Carter Williams, Dennis Schroeder, Jamaal Franklin, Shane Larkin and Allen Crabbe, but let’s just focus on Schroeder and McCollum today and save the rest for a later date.
If I were to pick a player who is under the radar at #15, I would probably go with Dennis Schroeder. Schroeder is a little unknown in my eyes because he’s a foreign prospect but his skill set kind of reminds me of Rajon Rondo or Devin Harris. Dennis seems like the kind of player who could be like Monta Ellis because of his skills with the ball, quick first step, and great open court speed, but he still struggles to finish around the basket. Schroeder is working his way to make himself a better overall offensive player, and he worked efficiently as a distributor in last week’s Nike Hoop Summit (according to a report from Draft Express) by working with the front-court players off of different kinds of pick and rolls. While Schroeder is still a work in progress defensively, he is also one of the quickest point guards in this draft so I think he can develop into a solid defensive guard.
Schroeder would be a bit of a reach at #15, the Bucks would absolutely love if Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum fell down to them at #15. C.J. is one of the best pure scorers in this draft class with his ability to score off screens and in isolation. A swift and reliable jumper from both mid-court and beyond the arc (shot 51% from 3 last season) makes him into a force to be reckoned with during every possession. He’s not really an athletic freak like some of the other guards that are slated to be picked around the lottery, but his above-average speed and ball-handling abilities allow him to penetrate to the basket (and he shot 85% from the line in ’12-’13).
One of the flaws with McCollum is the fact that he really isn’t set into one specific position because of his frame (6’3″ and 192) is a bit small to be a shooting guard, but he was never that much of a ball distributor while at Lehigh. (The Monta problem revisited.) My guess would be that he could work his way at the shooting guard position despite his frame but there’s a possibility that he would work as a scoring point guard a la Brandon Jennings. While I’ve previously talked about how the team should try to grab a distributor with that first-round pick, McCollum is too special of a scorer to pass up if he’s still available when Milwaukee picks.
While I don’t think that either of those two players will end up as superstars in the league, they can still be valuable pieces that will help the team as they hopefully look to rebuild as a team and to not just reload. My opinion may be falling on deaf ears but this team’s mindset needs to change because it’s been an absolute mess of mediocrity since the “Fear the Deer” run in 2010.
The word rebuilding isn’t really the most popular phrase in the minds of most sports fans because they coincide that with losing but sometimes you have to take a hit in the present in order to grow and flourish in the future. I’m behind that movement simply to help bring the team out of this rut that they’ve been in for a majority of the last ten seasons. Perhaps it’s just an act of desperation as a fan who has dealt with these mediocre teams but it’s time that the team wipes the slate clean and look into the future.