Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to take part in his first NBA summer league in July.
Bucks VP of Player Personnel, Dave Babcock, revealed in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he expects both Nate Wolters and Giannis Antetokounmpo to compete for the team’s Las Vegas Summer League squad in July.
First-round picks heading into their second NBA season don’t always play in Summer League, but it will the second year in a row Milwaukee sends its previous draft’s first-rounder. John Henson was on the roster last year and emerged as one of the most productive players in Las Vegas, averaging 14.7 points and 13.7 boards en route to All-Summer League honors. For Antetokounmpo, it will be an opportunity to work as the centerpiece of the offense.
“In the summer, you can put them (Antetokounmpo and Wolters) in positions they weren’t in last year,” Babcock said. “Giannis can be the focal point of the offense, and Nate can run the show. It’s a lot different.”
Greek National Team commitments kept Antetokounmpo from participating in Summer League last year. Wolters averaged 9.4 points, 3.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds in five games, mostly coming off the bench. The Bucks finished 2-3, falling to San Antonio in the first round of bracket play.
The Bucks summer squad should be as intriguing as any in Vegas, with a high-lottery pick in the upcoming draft presumably joining the two rising sophomores on the squad. Milwaukee also holds three second-round picks, though it remains to be seen if they’ll hold onto those selections.
Saturday marked the Bucks’ first pre-draft workout, as the team brought in four seniors, including Wisconsin’s Ben Brust, to compete at the Cousins Center. Though all four could go undrafted, the franchise is already exploring potential options for late in the second round. According to Babcock, which top-tier prospects are brought in won’t be determined until after the NBA Draft Lottery on May 20.
“If we’re No. 1, we will get anybody we want in,” Babcock said. “If we’re No. 4, there will be a couple guys that say, ‘No, we don’t want to come.’ I’m sure of that. But we’ll see how it goes.”
As the holders of the league’s worst record, Milwaukee is guaranteed to fall no lower than the fourth pick. The Bucks hold the highest chance of any team – 25 percent – to land the top overall selection.
Milwaukee will send a full staff to the NBA draft combine in Chicago, which begins on Wednesday. It’ll be another chance to observe top prospects like Jabari Parker (Duke), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Joel Embiid (Kansas) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) in person, something Bucks scouts have already done 15-to-20 times this season, per Babcock.
Those four players, in addition to Australian guard Dante Exum, comprise the elite tier of prospects in the 2014 draft. No matter where the Bucks’ pick falls, they’ll have an opportunity to select one. Babcock indicated the team is much less familiar with Exum than the other prospects.
“He’s the only one. He’s been very limited,” Babcock said. “I saw him last summer for a week; he was at the (Nike) Hoop Summit game (last year) and there was a summer thing two years ago I saw him.”
The 18-year-old Exum remains a bit of a mystery, having spent the past year playing high school and club basketball in Australia. He’s been on NBA radars for several years but the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit was his de facto coming-out party. At 6-6 with long reach and a lightning-quick first step, Exum is very much in play at whichever pick Milwaukee holds in the first round.