On a warm Monday afternoon in downtown Milwaukee, the Bucks christened Larry Drew to be their 13th head coach in team history. Despite having an embarassing ending to a lackluster season, the general tone of the press conference was light-hearted and positive. The main subject of conversation was generally focused around the frontcourt duo of Henson and Sanders but there was still a huge elephant in the room that Drew, Hammond and owner Herb Kohl seemed to avoid: the future of Jennings and Ellis in Milwaukee with the Bucks.
Now, a majority of my draft profiles so far have centered around that specific issue but with different positions. But I do believe it’s the time to go head-on with this issue and take a look at some prospects that may lead the Bucks in the post-Jennings era. Our first player under examination will be Shane Larkin, a 5’11″ sophomore from the University of Miami.
Despite not even being a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, Larkin is still a somewhat controversial prospect in the minds of most fans because of his small frame. For the last 16 months, Bucks fans dealt with the duo of Jennings (6’1″) and Ellis (6’3″) so it makes sense that they’d be less than excited at the thought of taking a player as small as Larkin.
While Larkin lacks the height and size of most of the point guard prospects in this year’s draft, he makes up for it with his cerebral playing style. The approach Larkin takes every time he has possession of the ball would fit well with Drew’s team-oriented offensive approach — his strength lies in his ability as a ballhander in the pick-and-roll. In his introductory press conference, Larry Drew’s main focus centered around the potential and future of John Henson and Larry Sanders. Larkin would presumably fit well with those two young big men.
According to Synergy Sports, both Sanders (22%) and Henson (14%) relied on the pick-and-roll for a good portion of their offensive production. While Larkin aid in the offensive progression of those two young bigs, he’s still at his best when he’s parked around the perimeter, shooting 41% shot from beyond the arc. One of Larkin’s biggest assets is his quick but reliable shooting stroke — a must for somebody of his stature.
While Larkin can light it up around the perimeter, he also has the quickness and ball-handling ability to penetrate to the paint. While he’s probably never going to be a dominant around the basket player because of his height and 5’11″ wingspan, Larkin kick out to open shooters or pull-up for mid-range jumpers.
Larkin’s defensive potential will probably be as one of those scrappy players who try to claw and grind their way for the ball. His physical limitations will probably make most opposing guards salivate so he’ll have to work on a possession by possession basis to not get beat. While his size will work against him, Larkin is one of the best ball thiefs in this draft class (2.2 steals per 40 minutes) because he uses his quickness and intelligence to work his way into passing lanes.
Overall, Shane Larkin will probably be looked down upon by most Bucks fans because he is short, but he’s still an extremely solid prospect. His style is perfect for the big man-focused system that Coach Drew wants to run in Milwaukee because of aptitude in the pick and roll. While he’ll probably never be an All-Star player, he may still be a reliable perimeter threat who will also help Sanders and Henson progress offensively.