As division foe Cleveland mulls its options with the No. 1 overall pick, teams further down in the 2013 NBA Draft are smiling.
Unlike in years past, when teams out of the lottery longingly gazed upon the top of the draft to add a franchise-changing player, it seems that this draft is void of those prospects. 206-pound Nerlens Noel is a project who has elite shot blocking ability coupled with a barren offensive repertoire. Georgetown’s Otto Porter and Kansas’ Ben McLemore have all the tools to score, except they can disappear from games and Porter lacks NBA strength. Indiana guard Victor Oladipo has struck the interest of GM’s because his floor of a defensive stopper is worthy of a high lottery pick, and his huge shooting improvement during his sophomore year makes some think he could be at least above average on that end.
But these players aren’t No. 1 pick worthy. They aren’t LeBron James, Derrick Rose or Dwight Howard. That’s why teams sitting just outside of the lottery are feeling good about themselves. There is a bevy of raw, high-ceiling players slated to go from the middle to the end of the draft. Many Bucks fans, naturally, would like to see a point guard or shooting guard added, since J.J. Redick, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings all have uncertain futures in Milwaukee. However, it’s important to realize that the Bucks should take the best player available at 15. The Bucks also need a lot of help on the wing. The only position Bucks fans will cringe at is power forward. John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova have that position manned, and it is unlikely a talented 4 will slip to 15.
The Bucks could add a shooter or a point guard, but this draft is incredibly weak for those hoping the Bucks might add a small forward. Shabazz Muhammed, the No. 1 rated player out of high school in the class of 2012, is rumored to be in danger of slipping out of the lottery. His poor attitude and lack of an above average shooting stroke has GM’s concerned, but the Minnesota Timberwolves have been reported to be interested in him at No. 9. If he were to slip to the Bucks at 15, they’d have to take him. He might be worth the risk in this draft, as there will be several boom/bust players in the back half of the first round.
Here are some of the players the Bucks have expressed interest in working out.
Glen Rice Jr. (D-League)
One small forward option the Bucks might look at for their No. 15 pick is Glen Rice, Jr., a shooter who can also finish strong in the paint, but who is essentially nonexistent defensively. Rice, Jr. was also kicked off George Tech after multiple suspensions with the team and rose to the occasion when Andrew Goudelock joined the Lakers. Rice, Jr. averaged 25 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in the D-League playoffs for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece)
18-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Greek player, has freakish measurables but is incredibly raw. He is the only player on the list who has not confirmed he’ll work out for Milwaukee, but that could change in the coming weeks. Antetokounmpo might not come over for a couple years but could eventually turn into an impact player for teams. He averaged only 7.9 points per game and 5.2 rebounds but has a shooting touch. Antetokounmpo shot 33 percent from three. He’s 6’9” with a 7’3” wingspan and has grown three inches in the last ten months. Once he stops growing and begins to fill out his frame, it’s reasonable to believe his shooting touch will improve.
Three-point guard prospects could be available when the Bucks pick. All three are intriguing and could have the potential to be stars if their games develop a certain way.
Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)
There is no better point guard prospect in the draft. Trey Burke is the best point guard right now, but has a lower ceiling than MCW. Burke has a ton of heart and can shoot the basketball but will struggle because of his average athleticism and below average size. The conversation with Carter-Williams starts with his size. At 6’5”, MCW has ideal height for the point guard position. His arms aren’t any longer than he is tall, but he’ll be fine because a 6’5” wingspan is still considered special at his position.
Carter-Williams entered Big East play averaging 10.2 assists per game, but the increase in competition caused him to finish the season averaging over 7 a game. He looks to pass the ball first, showing great vision and ability. Carter-Williams also projects to be elite on the defensive end. He averaged 2.8 steals per game, and while many like to point to his defensive success being a product of Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone, his lane agility score at the NBA Draft was an impressive 10.68. That’s more than half a second better than Burke, and only .04 behind much smaller guards Shane Larkin of Miami and Texas’ Myck Kabongo.
The big issue many have with MCW is his lackluster shooting ability. It’s not that Carter-Williams can’t shoot but that he’s inconsistent. Shooting consistency is something players, especially guards, have proven they can improve upon after being drafted. When Thunder guard Russell Westbrook entered the league, many execs thought his upside was on defense. Many questioned his shooting and offensive skills, pointing toward his length, athleticism and defensive awareness as why he’d be an elite perimeter defender. Westbrook developed his shot to become a much better shooter, and is now a force on the offensive end.
Carter-Williams shot looking better. Shot around 55% NBA 3. 65% college 3. 80% mid range during workout.
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 24, 2013
I don’t think Carter-Williams is going to be Westbrook, but I think he’ll be solid at the offensive end once he develops. Although he is turning 22 this October, he played only one full season out of high school, so his ceiling remains high despite his age.
Dennis Schroeder (Germany)
Not many knew who he was until he outplayed Andrew Harrison at the Nike Hoop Summit in April. Schroeder has a very high ceiling with some nice length (6’2” tall, 6’7.5” wingspan). He’s only 19 and has the quickness and athleticism to score in the paint. I’m not sure if there’s anything he does particularly well, but he’s a pretty big unknown. He has the frame and athleticism that many like in a young point guard. Taking a player like Schroeder could be a boom/bust choice that a team like Milwaukee needs to start doing more of.
Many have made the comparisons to a young Rondo. I’m not sure he’s the passer or athlete that Rondo is, but then again, it’s hard to really make any determination about him. He’s a pretty big question mark, and in this draft—that’s intriguing.
Shane Larkin (University of Miami)
Larkin destroyed the NBA Combine, showing off his strength with 12 reps on the bench press and a skywalking 44 inch max vert. The max vert mark was the second highest in the combine’s history. Larkin was a great college player, who has shown quickness, passing ability and a very good shooting stroke from three, but even in shoes he’s only 5’11”. Larkin’s wingspan is also only 5’10”. That’s a major measurement red flag. In today’s game, there are very few point guards who have been successful at that size. If Larkin was 6’3”, he’d be a lock for the lottery. The athleticism and strength make me think he could make it in the league. However, Carter-Williams and Schroeder are more intriguing prospects because of the potential that their size and length give them.
Still, if the Bucks went with Larkin on June 27, it wouldn’t be a disappointing pick. He has great skills and will be an interesting prospect to track.
There will be several prospects available that could turn into more than just rotational players when the Bucks pick at No. 15. In fact, the perception of this draft is so misconstrued by the casual observer as being a “weak draft” that it wouldn’t be out of the question to acquire one or two more picks in the first round. The Dallas Mavericks have made it clear that they are open to trading No. 13. in order to create cap space for the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. The Bucks could send cash considerations, their $2 million worth of trade exceptions, or sign-and-trade Brandon Jennings to Dallas.
With the No. 13 and No. 15 picks, the Bucks could take Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo and have two very good prospects to work with going forward. If the Bucks felt intrigued by Larkin, they could take Rice Jr. and Antetokounmpo and buy a third first rounder at the back end of the draft to take Larkin. However, two firsts is much more realistic.
Nearly 1,500 words later, it all boils down to one fact: to assume the Bucks have any kind of plan is a bit of a stretch. But we can dream.