SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin, Six Others in Milwaukee Monday

Photo: Bucks.com

The 2013 NBA Draft is less than 72 hours away, but from the looks of things, the Milwaukee Bucks have not come to a consensus as to who will be the selections at picks 15 and 43 overall. Of course it’s difficult to project which prospects will be available at these junctures, which is likely the reason Milwaukee continues to hold workouts and interview sessions with NBA hopefuls from across the nation.

The Bucks welcomed in six more prospects – Tyler Brown (Illinois State), Robert Covington (Tennessee State), Kevin Dillard (Dayton), Lamont Jones (Iona), Oleksandr Lypovyy (Ukraine), Scott Suggs (Washington) – on Monday for a group workout. While it’s a long shot that any of the six are drafted, the organization is perhaps looking ahead and focusing on potential candidates for next month’s Las Vegas Summer League roster – a squad typically composed of recent draft picks and young free agents.

Tyler Brown

Brown played just two seasons at Illinois State after transferring from Marshalltown Community College. He scored in double figures in 27 games as a senior and averaged 18.1 points per game, good for third in the Missouri Valley Conference. At 6-4, 185, Brown needs to bulk up before he’s ready for the NBA, and he’ll likely find himself in the D-League or overseas next season.

Robert Covington

Covington averaged double-figures in each of his four seasons at Tennessee State. He posted averages of 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 2.2 steals as a senior and is perhaps the most intriguing prospect in Monday’s workout. At 6-9, he has the height to score inside, but he also shot 38.8 percent from beyond the arc last season (45.3 percent as a junior) and is a very mobile defender. However, in Tennessee Tech’s four toughest games last season – versus BYU, Minnesota, Murray State and Missouri – Covington fouled out twice and scored just 42 combined points on 14-of-53 shooting. If he impresses a team enough in workouts, there’s an outside chance Covington could be selected late in the second round, but signing on with a summer league team will likely be his fate.

Kevin Dillard

A transfer from Southern Illinois, Dillard led Dayton in scoring (15.3 points per game) and assists (4.5) as a senior. He earned Second Team All-Atlantic 10 honors and ranked eighth in the nation with an 89.2 free throw percentage. At 6-0, 182, Dillard is an undersized point guard – exactly what the Bucks do not need – and it would be shocking if Milwaukee selected him in the second round. However, his ability to get to the hoop and pass-first mentality could land him a summer league invite.

Lamont Jones

Along with Covington, Jones – who goes by “Momo” – looks to have the most NBA potential of the group. Another transfer (he played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Arizona), Jones averaged 22.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game en route to earning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) player of the year award. At 6-0, he’s undersized and would undoubtedly struggle to defend bigger point guards, but Jones is a dynamic scorer with an uncanny ability to get to the lane and draw contact. Jones’ 221 made free throws last season ranked second in the country, and he failed to score in double figures just once. Still, given his size, it is unlikely Jones will follow in the footsteps of former teammate and current Warriors’ guard Scott Machado to the NBA.

Scott Suggs

A 6-6 shooting guard, Suggs is likely a relatively unknown player outside of the Pac 12. He shot 40.1 percent from beyond the arc in his career at Washington and averaged 12.2 points per game as a senior last season after sitting out the entire 2011-12 season with a broken foot. While Suggs is a capable shooter, he’ll be almost 24 at the start of next season and a career overseas appears most likely.

Oleksandr Lypovyy

First off, what a name. Props to whoever fell asleep on the keyboard while typing out his birth certificate. If nothing else, Lypovyy, a 6-6 shooting guard, could be the first ever Ukrainian-born player to suit up for the Bucks and just the seventh to ever play in the NBA, following in the footsteps of fellow Name Hall of Famers like Viachaslav Kravtsov and Stanislav Medvedenko. It’s not exactly clear why Milwaukee brought Lypovyy in on Monday, as he averaged just 4.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in the Ukrainian Superleague, but it’s possible the team view the 21-year-old as a long-term prospect who could be available in future drafts.

While Monday’s group workout contingent was a bit underwhelming, perhaps more exciting for fans was another workout taking place on Monday. Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State arrived in Milwaukee and took part in a private workout and interview session with Bucks’ brass. Due to an ankle injury sustained in a previous workout, Franklin was restricted to light shooting drills, but the Bucks reportedly saw enough of him on film and were satisfied with the limited showing.

As a junior this past season, Franklin averaged 17.0 points and 9.5 rebounds for a San Diego State team that finished 23-11 and lost to Florida Gulf Coast in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Often compared to former Aztec and current Spurs’ forward Kawhi Leonard, Franklin is a tenacious defender with great size (6-6), but he plays much more of a guard-oriented style as opposed to Leonard’s swingman approach. The primary knock on Franklin throughout college was his shot selection (41.3 percent from the field) and turnover-prone style of play (3.4 turnovers, 3.3 assists per game last season). However, he is a phenomenal athlete and would infuse life into a Milwaukee team in desperate need of a playmaker. Franklin also did this in a game, which is equal parts impressive and unbelievably foolish. Somewhere, Ricky Davis is nodding in approval.

If the Bucks are indeed considering Franklin with the 15th pick, it sounds as though it could be a perfect match. It is, after all, a rarity that a prospect expresses his desire to play in a city with frigid in-season conditions and limited commercial appeal – just ask Brandon Jennings or Yi Jianlian.

But Franklin did just that Monday, stating (per the Journal Sentinel), “Hopefully [the Bucks] like me as much as I like them.”

Sure, his agent has likely instructed him to tell every team he’d love to be their two guard of the future, but the fact that Franklin realizes it’s not his decision shows the humility and coachability organizations look for in players.

It also helps that Monta Ellis’ decision to opt out of his $12 million deal for next season leaves a gaping hole at the shooting guard spot. While the organization has not publicly stated which position they’ll target with the 15th pick, it’s widely speculated that given the lack of quality free-agent shooting guards, the team will look to fill the void through the draft.

Along with Franklin, Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Providence’s Ricky Ledo, the Bucks are rumored to be considering California’s Allen Crabbe as a potential first-round target. Crabbe, a prolific mid-range and 3-point shooter, will work out for the team on Tuesday. Like Franklin, however, Crabbe is dealing with a foot injury and will be restricted to light drills.

Topics: 2013 NBA Draft, Alan Crabbe, Jamaal Franklin, Milwaukee Bucks

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