*Editor’s note: This piece was written by Behind the Buck Pass contributor Justin Becker.
With the NBA regular season nearing an end and March Madness just beginning, the teams that are promised a lottery pick are really starting to scout. The Milwaukee Bucks are currently 13-55, giving them the worst record in the NBA. It seems like Milwaukee has the best chance of getting the number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Philadelphia 76ers right behind them. In a talent-rich class of prospects, all the talk is centered on who will be picked first? At this point, that question has evolved into which player will the Bucks select should they receive the first pick in the draft?
The Milwaukee Bucks have a couple of strong, young prospects, but their lack of cap space will result in a tough chance of landing any solid free agents. They don’t really have any veterans that they could build around, so they are basically stuck on grabbing all the young prospects while they can. No matter who they pick in the draft, they will be looking for someone that can come into the NBA and be ready to play big minutes right away. Let’s take a look at some of the top prospects Milwaukee will likely consider:
Joel Embiid, C – Kansas
Embiid looks to be the top choice to go number one in the draft. The center out of Kansas has had some injury problems this year, but if he can prove his healthy is not a liability, then he will be a great pick for any team. The Bucks current starting center, Larry Sanders, is still young, but has had a hard time living up to his contract. He still has a lot of time to get on track, but his halt in development has given the Bucks plenty to think about. Drafting Embiid might be the direction the Bucks are looking to go. Who knows, it could be best for both Embiid and Sanders.
Much like most of the other players in this draft, Embiid has a very high ceiling. He holds the ability to score from a variety of angles, making him a very dangerous player around the basket. He’s very versatile, being able to score from mid-range, taking it to the basket head on or scoring points in the post. His ability defensively will also give the Bucks a boost on both sides of the court. If the team wants to see success in the near future, adding Embiid looks to be their best choice.
Jabari Parker, SF – Duke
It’s no doubt that the Bucks need immediate help and quick improvement. If they are looking for that in this year’s draft, Duke’s small forward will likely be the go-to guy. Parker appears to be the safest bet for any team because he will be the most reliable attribute out of the gate. He appears to be the most NBA-ready player in the draft, making him hard to pass up on. Not to mention, he is an excellent jump shooter, complimenting perfectly with his all-around game.
However, Parker doesn’t have the same long-term upside that some of the other players in the draft possess. The debate for Milwaukee is whether they want Parker leading the charge next season with the possibility of reaching his ceiling in five years or so, or do they want a player who will take more time to develop and be the best overall pick? It’s something that will take Milwaukee a lot of thought. Regardless, it’s safe to say Parker will certainly be considered as a potential selection – if he declares, that is.
Andrew Wiggins, SF – Kansas
In the event that the Bucks score the number one pick in the draft, Andrew Wiggins should be their man. He seems to be the best suitable player long term. He may not tear up the court and make jaws drop in his rookie season, but he will give Milwaukee the edge they need in two or three years from now. By then, most of the other young prospects on the team will have found their groove. This will give the Bucks the solid, all-around team they’ve been looking for. Since the Bucks have such a young team, if they could orchestrate it so they all reach a peak at the same time, they would be set. Drafting Andrew Wiggins would be perfect for that scenario.
Wiggins is a highly athletic player that seems to have the most potential of any other player in this year’s draft. His offensive game will allow the Bucks to reach new heights while he will still prove to be a stellar asset on defense. That combination is hard to find in the NBA. He will give Milwaukee the perimeter threat needed, giving the rest of the team a chance to work the inside. On the other hand, he has the ability to put the ball down on the court and move swiftly past any defended in the way. Drafting Andrew Wiggins should be their top priority in this draft.
With not a lot of time left in the regular season, it looks as if the Milwaukee Bucks will get one of the top two picks in the draft. They would benefit with Embiid, Parker or Wiggins, which gives them a very tough decision come June. In my opinion, though, Wiggins would be the best pick that would give them a chance to be a very well-rounded team in a couple of years. Rebuilding processes are tough to get through, but the most important aspect during that process is drafting well.