Five Prospects Worthy of a 10-Day Contract from the Bucks

With the recent buy-out of Caron Butler's contract, the Bucks find themselves with an open roster spot. Who should they bring in?

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With the recent buy-out of Caron Butler’s contract, the Bucks find themselves with an open roster spot.

Rumors began surfacing around the Twittersphere early in the week and by Thursday, the news was official. The Milwaukee Bucks parted ways with the veteran small forward Caron Butler and in doing so, gave him an opportunity to catch on with a championship contender. Numerous competitive teams were reported to have interest and Butler did not take long to make his decision.

Of course it is a classy move from the Bucks organization to give the aging Butler a chance to win another championship, but it is a move that if done right, should benefit both parties. With the small forward off the roster, the Bucks now only have 14 players on the books, providing them with the privilege of being able to sign a young talent either from overseas or the D-League. Due to the youth of this Bucks squad, the chosen player could find himself receiving consistent minutes from coach Larry Drew and in turn, could provide the team with some much needed production.

The Pool of Prospects

Bucks GM John Hammond will have an immense pool of prospects to swaddle through in the upcoming days. Of course there are the international prospects from the various pro basketball leagues around the world (Did you know that Iceland even has a professional basketball league?). There are also many American players playing overseas that will potentially be on the table. The final area that the team could extract a player from is the  D-League. Despite being just over a decade old, the league is becoming the go-to place for GM’s of NBA teams to find a diamond in the rough talent. Many organizations have also used the D-League to groom some of their more raw prospects with great results. Terrence Jones of the Houston Rockets is a prime example of a player who greatly improved every faucet of his game during his stint with the Rockets’ D-League affliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The league is a valuable tool if used correctly by a team and the Bucks have a chance to benefit from this resource. So with out further ado, here is my list (In no particular order) of D-League players that I believe the Bucks should give an opportunity to with their open roster spot.

1. Manny Harris,  6’5″, 185 lbs, SG 

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Known as “The Michigan Mamba”, Manny Harris has been terrorizing Wisconsinites since his days in Ann Arbor where he was a first team All-Big Ten Conference selection for the Michigan Wolverines. As a top recruit coming out of high school, Harris had a decorated career for the Wolverines as a potent scorer who could go off on any given night. He finished his college career with an average points per game of 17.0 and entered the draft as a junior by foregoing his senior year. He fell out of the second round however due to a pre-draft injury which did not allow him to perform to his full ability in pre-draft workouts. He has bounced around the world of basketball since going undrafted in the 2010 draft, playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers,  a Ukranian team, and numerous D-League teams. Currently he sits atop the D-Leagues Top-30 prospect list due to his tremendous scoring output that he has been providing for the Los Angeles D-Fenders. At this level of competition, he has averaged a whopping 31.2 points per game and an impressive 7.6 rebounds per contest.

How would he fit in with the Bucks?

Although Mayo has come on as of late, the Bucks have been lacking a bench scoring punch much of the season. Adding Harris into the mix would provide the team with a combo guard that can put up points in limited minutes. He is not a guy that needs to get into the flow of the game first before he is able to find his scoring stroke and that is an important quality to have as the 15th man on a roster. If the Bucks were to sign him, there would be some oppurtunity to go small with some three guard line ups as well.

2. Tiny Gallon, 6’9″, 291 lbs, PF

Boy, doesn’t it feel like forever ago that the Bucks took a chance on a talented one and done product from the University of Oklahoma who went by the perfectly ironic moniker “Tiny”? The Bucks picked Gallon with the 47th overall pick in the 2010 draft with hopes that his high risk would be worth the reward. Unfortunately, things never panned out for Gallon and the Bucks (Although it did produce this wonderful “Tiny Dancer” remix), nor have things really panned out between Tiny Gallon and anything regarding basketball. That is until recently. With his basketball career running on fumes ever since the Bucks released him in the Fall of 2010, Gallon rediscovered his passion for the game of basketball recently and both his physical appearance as well as his production are a testament to it. Following his signing with the Delaware 87ers of the D-League on December 27 of this past year, Gallon is averaging 18.4 points per game to go with his 9.3 rebounds. In the best shape of his life, Gallon is clearly motivated to make a return to the NBA, even declining an opportunity to sign with a professional team in China.

How would he fit in with the Bucks?

The injury bug has been no stranger to the Bucks front court this season with Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Zaza Pachulia, Ekpe Udoh, and Larry Sanders all missing a significant number of games. The recent addition of Jeff Adrien provides the team with a much needed healthy front court body, but he possesses a one dimensional game that lacks an offensive side. Tiny Gallon has demonstrated a valuable ability to stretch the opponents defense in his D-League appearances. Because of this, he could have a role similar to Ilyasova, only with a bigger body which could come in handy against some of the more powerful power forwards in the game (David West is a fresh example of this). A Milwaukee Bucks/Tiny Gallon remarriage would be quite the redemption story and the 23 year old should definitely be on the Bucks’ radar as they make their decision.

3. James Nunnally, 6’7″, 205 lbs, SF

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What kind of a list would this be without a player that could directly step into the shoes of Butler as a small forward? James Nunnally has been relatively under the radar for the duration of his basketball career. After being left out of ESPN’s Top 100 High School Player Rankings, Nunnally chose to attend UC Santa Barbara. He put together a solid college career but went undrafted in the 2012 NBA draft. After opportunities in the NBA Summer League, overseas, and the D-League, Nunnally finally got his opportunity to see action in an NBA game when the Atlanta Hawks signed him to a 10-day contract this season. It proved to be his first of two 10-day contracts with the team, but ultimately he ended up back in the D-League.  Nunnally posseses an impressively patient offensive game for his age with a tight three point shot. He is known as a quality defender as well.

How would he fit in with the Bucks?

The Milwaukee Bucks struck gold this summer when they acquired small forward Khris Middleton in the Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight swap. Middleton’s ability to shoot a high percentage and defend his position has turned him into a nice player and I see a lot of Middleton in James Nunnally. The Bucks could add another solid “3 & D” type player to the team if they were to sign Nunnally. He could turn into a very good rotation piece for a competitive team (hopefully the Bucks will qualify) down the road.

4. Chris Wright, 6’8″, 225 lbs, SF/PF

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What makes a poor basketball team semi-watchable? Athletic, exciting players do and the high-flying Chris Wright fits the bill. Wright gathered notoriety as a high-FLYER (Convenient school nickname joke) at the University of Dayton before bringing his vertical leaping ability to the NBA. He spent most of his 2011-12 season as an NBA’er with the Golden State Warriors and even turned in an impressive start for the team in their final game of the season. He has been in the D-League ever since, accumulating two D-League All-Star selections in the last two seasons. Wright is a player searching for an organization where he can stick and with the youth movement of the Bucks, the fit could establish itself.

How would he fit in with the Bucks?

Although the Bucks possess a handful of players with great length and athleticism, they do not really have that 40 plus inch, above the rim type presence. I am not saying that this is a necessity for a team to be successful, or even exciting, but it is a role that has been left vacant for a number of seasons. The ample number of minutes that he has received in the D-League has also allowed for him to round out his offensive game and he could turn into a legitimate NBA player someday and not just a dunk contest side show.

5. Kevin Murphy, 6’5″, 185 lbs, SG

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Perhaps no one in the D-League has been scoring the ball more efficiently than this former Tennessee Tech player, Kevin Murphy. He has been blowing up for the Idaho Stampede, scoring 26.0 points per game on 51.5% shooting from the field. That percentage is solid for any player, let alone a shooting guard who shoots at a fairly high rate. Back in college, the 6’5″ Murphy turned in a quality senior year that made him a second round draft selection of the Utah Jazz. Unable to stick with the Jazz and later the Warriors, Murphy has found a home in the D-League terrorizing opponent’s defenses. It is only a matter of time before some organization gives the guy a 10-day contract.

How would he fit in with the Bucks?

With the unknown future of recently reacquired guard Ramon Sessions and the albatross contract that is O.J. Mayo, a guy like Kevin Murphy really panning out could drastically alter the business moves of the Bucks down the road. There has been rumors that the Bucks are interested in resigning the soon to turn 28 Ramon Sessions following the season which would be a move that goes against the youth movement that the Bucks have seemed to be trying as of late. If a guy such as Murphy could come in and play well, it could deter the Bucks’ front office from making moves like that one.

The Bottom Line

As a Bucks fan, John Hammond and company have made it challenging to trust them to make the correct decisions in situations like this over the years. Despite their shaky track record though, they have expressed an interest to become youth driven from this season moving forward. A 10-day contract may not seem like a major deal in the grand scheme of things, but it lets the fan have a better idea of what the organization’s agenda really is for the future. Could it be that the Bucks find a key asset with this final roster spot AND regain some of the fan’s trust? Here’s to hoping the Bucks hit on a guy with some untapped potential who could become part of the team’s plan moving forward. And maybe, just maybe, a quality experience with the D-League will lead to the Bucks taking advantage of the resource more often in the future.

Tags: Caron Butler Chris Wright James Nunnally Kevin Murphy Manny Harris Milwaukee Bucks Tiny Gallon

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